Saturday, January 17, 2009

Public dissection of Great White shark was quite educational

New Zealand scientists have finished dissecting a three-metre long great white shark as part of their research.

They found that its liver alone weighed 39 kilograms.

More than 2,000 people stood for hours under Auckland's hot sun to watch the public dissection at the city's museum.

The 300-kilogram female shark died a fortnight ago after getting caught in a fisherman's gill net in a harbour, north of Auckland.

The great white shark was only declared a protected species in New Zealand 18 months ago.
Marine scientist Clinton Duffy says nowadays there is less fear and more respect for the animals.
"I've also heard that the humble scallop is the most dangerous animal in New Zealand waters," he said.

"More divers drown hunting scallops than have ever been eaten by great white sharks in New Zealand"

When the scientists cut open the shark's stomach it was filled with brown mush.

On closer inspection they found fish bones, a tapeworm and a fish hook.

Mr Duffy says seals had also left bite marks on the shark's snout.

"The scarring on the snout tells us at this age the shark had switched to eating seals, so it tells us something about its diet," he said.

He says at three metres in length, the adolescent female could eat a seal whole.

Auckland Museum is keeping the organs for more research.


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