Megamouth Shark #17 Washed onto South African Beach
April 20, 2002
Sources of Information:
Dr. Malcolm Smale
Port Elizabeth Museum
On 20 April 2002, a large shark was stranded at Natures Valley (33o 59' S, 23o 34'E) in the
Western Cape Province, South Africa. Initial reports suggested that it was a whale shark, but subsequent reports and digital photographs confirmed that it was a megamouth, Megachasma pelagios. Dr Vic Cockcroft of the Centre for Dolphin Studies collected it from the beach to ensure that it was not washed out to sea again. It is the first record of this species in South Africa and the Western Indian Ocean and is the 17th discovered world-wide since its discovery off Hawaii was announced in 1976. It was iced early the next morning and collected by Dr Malcolm Smale and Matt Dicken and brought back to the Port Elizabeth Museum. It was placed in a scientific freezer and frozen to -20o C. A preliminary examination showed that the animal, approximately 4m long and female was in reasonable condition, but the skin was scuffed and there was some damage to the fins. It will be examined, measured and dissected by Drs Malcolm Smale (Port Elizabeth Museum) & Leonard Compagno (South African Museum) in early May. Various samples, including tissues for DNA analyses will be saved for future research. Taxidermists will make a mould of the animal for educational displays in museums.
The following photos were supplied by
Dr. Vic Cockcroft
Centre for Dolphin Studies
Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
All photos copyright Beefy and Tish (Natures Valley Trading Store).