In late June, Hawaii authorities discovered something disturbing. Near Keehi Lagoon in Honolulu, Hawaii, between 50 to 100 baby hammerhead sharks were found dead. Based on the evidence, officials believe fishermen netted then dumped the baby sharks on land.
According to the Associated Press, an investigation has since been launched by the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. Reportedly, the lagoon is a popular birthing location for hammerhead sharks. However, it is not natural for shark pups to die in such large numbers.
Andrew Rossiter, the director of the Waikiki Aquarium, hypothesizes that the sharks were netted then dumped on land. Rossiter told KHON-TV: “To breathe they have to keep moving, so once they’re in the net for even two to three minutes, they’re unable to breathe and they suffocate.”
The director added that he’s never seen so many shark pups killed at once. Furthermore, the state should have passed tougher laws to prevent the killing.
“When it’s the pupping season and it’s a pupping area, then maybe they should restrict or ban the use of gill nets just for a couple of weeks to give them a chance,” said the aquarium director.
As IFLScience points out, hammerhead sharks aren’t a single species. Rather, they are an entire family named Sphyrnidae, which contains a variety of genera and species. Honolulu Magazine reports that Hawaii is home to approximately 40 different species of shark. The dead baby sharks are the scalloped species.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the scalloped species are coastal and semi-oceanic creatures. Most importantly, they are endangered. The species’ shark fins are highly sought after due to their high fin ray count, which has led to an increase in poaching. Hopefully, a new bill introduced in 2016 will make knowing capture or kill of sharks in this way a crime. The soonest the bill may pass is 2019, reports Motherboard.
Regarding the incident, authorities are requesting anyone with information contact the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to help catch those responsible.
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Image Credit: KHON2 News