We’ve all heard by now that the East Coast weather has coalesced into an alarming bomb of spitting, tormenting cold, but how are the sharks going to handle this? After all, the ocean’s getting hit pretty hard! Well, here’s one indication.
On Tuesday, the Cape Code Times reported that on New Year’s Eve a fourth frozen thresher shark was discovered in an “ice pack” (an area of floating ice, not the thing you keep in your freezer, I just learned) near Wellfleet, Massachusetts.
According to that report, some scientists say the thresher shark is relatively ill-equipped to generate heat (it’s threshold is water below 44 degrees for an extended period of time, but it’s called a “thresher” because its tail resembles a scythe).
Scientists also think the four sharks who have perished were traveling in a group, and became confused as a group, and possibly trapped in the freezing cold Cape Cop Bay. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s program director Michelle Wcisel explained to the Times, “All sharks travel in same sex and size groups. It’s normal for them to be traveling together.” Freezing together, not normal.
But over at boston.com, we’ve got some skeptics. It’s possible, the site’s article on the matter contends, that the sharks didn’t literally freeze to death, but instead died from being stranded in shallow waters mistakenly traveled to after the cold front forced them to steer south in a frenzy. Greg Skomal, the senior fisheries scientist for Massachusetts’ Department of Fish and Game told boston.com, “The rapid cooling associated with this cold snap and water temps is forcing the sharks to move south at a faster pace, and the landmass of Cape Cod is contributing to them getting stranded in shallow water.” Again, the sharks are confused.
Whether the sharks are freezing to death, or suffocating to death and then freezing, I conclude that this does not look good. Winter is most certainly here.