Dead and possibly pregnant bluntnose shark washes up on Hornby Island


A dead shark that is believed to have been pregnant has washed up on the shores of Hornby Island.

Owein Willoughby lives on Hornby Island and came down to the beach Friday to have his own first-hand look at a dead shark.

The shark washed up along the high-tide line just north of Phipps Point.

“It’s always interesting when one of these things washes up and comes along, because you don’t see them very often,” said Willoughby.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it received the first report of the dead shark washing up this past weekend.

From submitted pictures, it’s determined the shark was a female blunt-nose sixgill shark, a deep-water shark that’s fairly common in B.C.’s waters. Adult males grow up to six meters in length.

“They’re found off of the slope throughout B.C., and found up to maybe a kilometre and a half down. It’s off of the sounds of Vancouver Island and in the Salish Sea,” said Dr. Jackie King,

Fisheries and Oceans says while it’s uncommon for them to wash up dead, it does happen from time to time. It’s believed this shark was either a juvenile or a pregnant female, based on a reddish tinge in the earliest pictures, and a swollen belly.

“I could also see from the photos that the shark had a reddish hue to its skin so it was under some duress or stress so that could’ve been part of it. It’s not an ongoing trend. It does happen from time to time,” said King.

A dead pregnant bluntnose sixgill shark washed up in Coles Bay in 2019.

Willoughby who says he loves Hornby Island for its wildlife says it’s only the second time in about a decade he’s heard of a shark washing up on the island’s shores.

“They’re amazing and they’re so primitive.”

Fisheries and Oceans says it records when sharks wash up dead so it wants people to report them. It’s also hoping people, like Willowby, will take this opportunity to learn about the sharks in the Salish Sea.

Fisheries and Oceans say there are up to 14 species of sharks that exist in BC waters.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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