The Department of Environment reports that a young Caribbean reef shark was found dead earlier this month next to the Lobster Pot boat ramp in George Town. DoE shark scientist Dr Johanna Kohler conducted a post-mortality exam to try and confirm the cause of death and her findings revealed the shark was a male, 78cm / 2 ½ feet in length, and that its nearly closed belly button indicated it was approximately 3 months old. Dr Kohler identified a hole and cut in the pectoral fin, which suggested the shark was hooked and then released.
Even though the shark had been released after having been caught, the scientist believed it most likely died from the immense stress of being unintentionally caught and then released, coupled with the possible lack of oxygen and internal injuries.
“The ordeal might have been just too much for the shark to handle, causing it to die either during release or shortly after,” the DOE said.
They went on to remind anglers to be extra careful in the shallow waters around Cayman’s shores, where baby sharks born over the summer will shelter from predators and find small crustaceans, worms and fish to eat. Using non-stainless steel circle hooks helps ensure the safety of sharks who maybe accidentally hooked, they advised.
If you encounter a shark, stop fishing immediately. If you accidentally hook a shark, remove the hook and release it immediately to improve its chance of survival.
To learn more about shark protection in the Cayman Islands visit www.doe.ky/marine/sharks