The body of an 8-foot-long juvenile great white shark washed ashore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and State Beach in San Diego on Sunday, KTLA sister station KSWB reports.
Early Sunday, California State Parks Ranger Dylan Hardenbrook responded to a call about a shark with a torn mouth.
The shark was wounded by fishing gear including a larger hook and leading wire, typically used for big-game fishing, according to California State Parks.
“The cable leader had torn the shark’s mouth open on both sides, presumably from it being hooked and then twisting its head around trying to escape,” Hardenbrook said. “There were very traumatic injuries to the mouth and head area.”
The shark had been tagged by a geo-tracking device installed by crews from Shark Lab out of Cal State Long Beach, detected by nearby buoys with monitors. Recently, over 41 individual sharks had been identified at Torrey Pines in the course of a month. Experts suggest it’s a sign of a growing ecosystem.
“Great white sharks cruise up and down the California coastline all along, and I think we’re building up some big food populations around here, which should attract more and make more stop by and visit us,” said Patrick Abbott, a geology and environment expert and professor emeritus at San Diego State University.
Despite the growing numbers of sharks in local waters, great whites’ conservation status is vulnerable, one level above endangered.
Hardenbrook told KSWB that intentionally hunting for great whites is illegal, though such a crime is hard to prosecute, as an angler can merely express that it wasn’t their intent.
“It’s both illegal and unfortunate. It is illegal to intentionally hunt or fish for great white sharks, they are protected,” Hardenbrook said.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife performed a necropsy, an autopsy done on animals, on the shark Monday, but the results have yet to be reported.