4 April 2019

South Africa: Scientists Dissect Carcass of Kommetjie Whale Shark

The cause of death of a whale shark found on Kommetjie beach earlier this week has not yet been established.

Associate professor Colin Attwood, from the University of Cape Town's marine ecology and fisheries department, performed a dissection of the carcass on Tuesday, a day after the animal washed up on Long Beach.

The examination took place at the Ocean and Coasts depot in Paarden Island, as the carcass was too large to house at UCT.

Despite early speculation that the animal had been killed by a ship, Attwood told News24 that the female whale shark of unknown age "looked healthy".

The stomach contents have, however, not been examined yet.

"We have retrieved the stomach, but not opened it yet. This will be a big job, for some future date. It is currently in the DEA freezer," he told News24.

He added that this was his first opportunity to dissect a whale shark, despite one washing up on the same stretch of coast in the past.

Attwood said various tissue samples were taken and the head, tail liver, stomach and gill had been kept. The rest of the carcass was dumped.

Source: News24

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