THEODORE, AL (WALA) –
Residents near Mobile Bay woke up to a strange surprise Saturday – dozens of baby bull sharks dead and washed up on shore. It happened on the beach on Belle Air Boulevard near Dauphin Island Parkway.
Officials with Alabama Marine Resources and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab are now investigating.
“Horrified! Not expecting something like that,” said Sabrina Rios, who was visiting her friend nearby when it happened. ”They were all about two-to-three feet and they were just all piled on the beach here.”
Her husband, Stoney Adkins, added, “The smell was overwhelming. So our two older boys took the shovel over and tried to dig holes and bury them.”
Biologists with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab collected 57 baby bull sharks from the beach on Saturday, which they will necropsy and then use for research.
FOX10 went to the beach on Sunday and counted three more sharks, along with catfish, crabs and other sea life caught in pieces of a gill net.
Officials with Alabama Marine Resources tell us they believe the gill net is what caused the sharks to wash up on shore.
“From what we could see, somebody had set a recreational gill net on the beach and the sharks were just swimming into the net and got tangled,” said Chris Blankenship, director of Marine Resources. “If sharks aren’t moving through the water, they die.”
Rios says many of the sharks were still tangled in a large part of a gill net on Saturday.
“It looks like they tried to take them out of the net and left a pile on the beach. Then they just kind of gave up and left a ton of them inside the net itself.”
Marine Resources has since collected that net fragment for investigation. We’re told a gill nets requires a license and is supposed to be monitored when in the water. One of the questions that remains… Was this gill net legal?
“There were no markings on this piece of gill net that was there on the beach, so it’s difficult to say whether the person that put it out had a license and if they were netting legally or not,” said Blankenship.
It’s a sad day for the baby sharks, but officials say 57 is only a small portion of the sharks in Mobile Bay. As we await the official autopsy results, we’re told the area will be patrolled more closely from now on.
Blankenship says if you ever see a gill net unattended or anything else out of the ordinary on the water, he wants you to call the Marine Resources 24-hour-hotline at 251-476-1256.
We’re told the Sea Lab’s shark expert will be back in town on Tuesday to take a closer look.
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