About 60 dead spiny dogfish sharks washed up on beaches in New Jersey over the weekend, according to authorities.
The cause of the deaths is still unknown, but New Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDEP) said it is likely a natural incident, the Press of Atlantic City reported.
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A picture of some of the dead sharks was posted on Twitter Monday.
“[It’s] most likely a natural occurrence with nothing to be alarmed about,” Jason Snellbaker, the Marine region captain of the NJDEP, told the Press of Atlantic City.
The sharks were found by conservation officials on patrols along a 13-mile stretch of New Jersey coast, from Longport to Brigantine, Snellbaker said. He suggested the sharks could have been pushed onto shore by strong winds after high tide.
Another possibility is that the sharks could have been trapped in a salt marsh during high tide, but were unable to get out before the outgoing tide, causing them to die there or in a tidal pool, the outlet reported.
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A Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson told the Press of Atlantic City the sharks washing up does not suggest a greater environmental issue.
Atlantic spiny dogfish sharks are commercially fished within New Jersey waters, according to The Associated Press.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the sharks are slim and have narrow, pointed snouts with white spots. In the U.K. the sharks are used in fish and chips, according to NOAA’s Fish Watch.