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What type of shark was the 14-footer removed recently from Fort Fisher?

David Reynolds

The 6- to 8-foot-long sand tiger shark found Aug. 9 on Carolina Beach wasn’t the biggest shark found on beaches in New Hanover County in the summer of 2010.

In late June or early July, a dead basking shark was found in the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.

At 14 feet long, the basking shark was roughly twice as long as the sand tiger shark found at Carolina Beach, but the basking shark’s teeth would appear far less intimidating

Paul Barrington, director of husbandry and operations at the N.C. State Aquarium at Fort Fisher, said basking sharks can grow to 30 to 40 feet long, but the large breed is among those known as filter-feeders because they eat plankton.

The basking shark found at Fort Fisher was a young male, Barrington said, and its cause of death is not known.

Although there were fishing nets in the area, the shark didn’t show signs it had been caught, Barrington said.

Basking sharks are a slow-moving breed that migrate in small groups along North Carolina shores, Barrington said. While they’re most often seen in February, they may be spotted in the area as late as June.

Both basking and sand tiger sharks are protected species, Barrington said.

They are among roughly a dozen types of shark found in the waters off of southeastern North Carolina. Other breeds include lemon sharks, spinner sharks, hammerheads, and the occasional great white.

While swimmers should remember sharks swim in area waters, Barrington said rip currents pose a greater risk to beachgoers.

User-contributed question by:
Stephen Walters

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