JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE...

December 08, 2000 12:00 am
Crescent City resident Jim Snow displays the shark he found washedup on Pebble Beach. Experts were divided on whether it is a baby great white, a mako or some other close relative. (Photo by Stephen Corley/The Daily Triplicate.).
Crescent City resident Jim Snow displays the shark he found washedup on Pebble Beach. Experts were divided on whether it is a baby great white, a mako or some other close relative. (Photo by Stephen Corley/The Daily Triplicate.).

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

With the look of Jaws junior, an infant shark believed to be either a mako or a great white, was found washed up on Pebble Beach yesterday morning.

It was really difficult to tell which one. On first glance it looked like a great white, but the teeth arent serrated, so its probably a mako, said local marine biologist Carlyn Cirillo, who examined the fish at Dr. Dennis Woods veterinary clinic.

Weighing 20 pounds and measuring three feet, four inches long, the shark was likely born in the last week or so, according to Bob Lea, a shark specialist and marine biologist in Monterey, Calif.

Lea said its also possible the fish is a salmon shark. Makos, great whites and salmon sharks all belong to the same shark species, so look very similar when young.

The main difference, however, lies in the size. Great whites are usually four and a half feet long at birth, whereas salmon and mako are around three feet long. And Lea said salmon sharks commonly wash ashore.

But, theres still a lot we dont know about these animals, Lea said. For example, no one has ever recorded a white shark mating or giving birth.

This could mean great whites are smaller at birth than previously thought.

Though the jury is still out on which kind of shark Jaws junior is, Lea says great whites are prevalent in this area and makos are more a warm water fish.

He also said makos are more an offshore animal. Whites are more near shore.

Either way, Jim Snow, who found the toothy fish on his morning beach walk, said he is very impressed with its power and beauty.

This baby makes a nuclear submarine look like something that was built in a garage, he said. That body is pure muscle, pure perfection.

Snow said the shark washed on shore with a gaff injury across from Castle Rock - a known breeding ground for seals, which are a popular meal for adult great whites.

Local surfers have been attacked by great whites on more than one occasion. On Nov. 4, a student of Humboldt State University was attacked in the waters just north of Humboldt Bay. Last year, a great white was spotted inside the mouth of the Klamath river after taking a chunk out of a surfers board.

Makos attack too, said Lea, but usually avoid human contact and the shallow depths humans occupy.

Snow said he would like to have the shark stuffed. In the meantime, veterinarian Wood will keep the carcass on ice.