California leopard shark deaths trouble scientists
A leopard shark that washed up in Foster City, California.
May 11th, 2011
01:39 PM ET

California leopard shark deaths trouble scientists

More than 100 leopard sharks have washed up dead over the past month around California's San Francisco Bay Area, according to a conservation and research group working with scientists to determine a cause.

At least four of the spotted creatures are being examined by a Department of Fish and Game pathologist now, said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. Three of the sharks undergoing analysis have signs of infection in their digestive and nervous systems, Van Sommeran said.

"Leopard sharks are typically very tough and are rarely susceptible to getting sick," he said. "So this is alarming. The infection seems to come in through the nose and affects their eyes, blinding them and half-paralyzing them so that they cannot keep themselves from coming up on the shore with the tide."

He said it's possible that the canals in which the sharks sometimes swim are polluted with stagnant water where bacteria can thrive. If it's a matter of cleaning the water, that can be accomplished by installing aerators or other equipment.

Because the sharks live in salt water, there is no threat to the human water supply, he stressed.

Van Sommeran said it's likely that more than 100 sharks have been affected. An untold number may still be in the water or have already decomposed.

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Filed under: Animals • Sharks
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    @banasy: Hi. I am a sheep. Bahhh bahhh

    May 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dan smith

    The oil spill was in the gulf of Mexico not the bay area it's much more likely that the problem is running sewage out to the bay. If you don't have anything to contribute to the actual articles and just want to post nonsense then find somewhere else to do it, facebook would be a good option, that's what it's there for.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Outspoken!

    Poor fish went swimmin' in the bay area and caught h3pa i is !

    May 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Outspoken!

    Poor little sharkies went swimmin' too close in t hebay area and caught h€pA tytis!

    May 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Outspoken!

      Really can't believe cnn's hounds of hell are censoring no good dogs!

      May 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cornholio

    Great Pacific Garbage Patch... Anyone ever heard of it?

    May 11, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
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