Filed under “unusual marine mammal deaths,” a great white shark filmed thrashing around in the shallow waters of an Australian beach was later found to have died with a sea lion stuck in its throat.
The Department of Fisheries investigated the death of the 13-foot shark after it washed ashore at Coronation Beach in western Australia in mid-July.
The shark is believed to be the mammal that struggled just two days earlier in a few feet of water while beachgoers looked on.
Principal research scientist Rory McAuley said the shark that died had a big Australian sea lion stuck in its throat.
"Such a large object may have damaged the shark's internal organs or impeded water flow into his gills, contributing to his death,” McAuley said in a statement from the Western Australia Department of Fisheries. “This could explain why the shark was exhibiting such unusual behavior in shallow waters off Coronation Beach. It is possible that the shark was trying to dislodge the blockage.”
Eyewitness Brad Tapper, who had been at the beach that weekend with his family, told The West Australian newspaper that the shark returned to shore despite efforts from some beachgoers to drag it out to sea.
"When we spotted it, it was about [165 feet] off shore and we thought it was a diver or something," he said. "We went to look at it, it started kicking and thrashing around again, so we thought it was time to leave. It was kind of surreal. You’re watching it and you don’t realize how rare it is at the time until you get home and have a look at the footage.”