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Giant Shark Carcass Found Floating In Boston Harbor: What Happened?

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Police officials have identified the giant shark carcass found floating near the Black Falcon Cruise Terminal in Boston.

The Boston Harbor unit received a call at about 8 in the morning on May 31 reporting the dead animal. When the police responded, they found an animal carcass just below the surface of the water but were unsure whether it was a whale or a shark. Captain John Greland of the Boston Police posted several pictures of the retrieval operations on his Twitter account. The Coast Guard were also at the scene to identify the remains.

New England Aquarium spokesperson Tony LaCasse said that they found the remains about 50 yards (150 feet) offshore. LaCasse shared that the shark was initially seen attached to the bow of a container vessel going into the harbor about two weeks ago. The carcass may have detached from the ship, sunk and reappeared Tuesday.

"We were expecting it to pop sooner," said LaCasse. "The important thing to remember is that it's possible the animal could have been dead before the vessel had struck it."

Upon careful study of the remains, the experts identified the animal to be a basking shark that was about 24 feet in length and between 3 and 5 tons (6,000 to 11,000 pounds) in weight when it was still alive.

The experts studied the pectoral fins and gill rakers of the animal to categorize the species. They are, however, unable to identify the likely cause of its death. Gill rakers are cartilaginous features that help trap food particles and which correlate with feeding behavior.

The remainder of the animal's carcass was allowed to float back into the harbor.

Basking sharks are the second largest shark in the world next to whale sharks. They are also among the three plankton-eating sharks along with the megamouth and whale sharks. As a cosmopolitan migratory species, basking sharks are commonly found in temperate oceans such as the New England waters.

Just recently, a mysterious shark head was found in Newport Beach in California and experts are mulling to conduct DNA analysis to identify its species.

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