Researchers studying the carcass of a whale off the coast of the Cape captured video of another creature of the deep — a hungry white shark enjoying an easy meal.
The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown began monitoring the carcass of a small, female minke whale when it was reported in Cape Cod Bay Wednesday. At the time, the carcass was found in “good condition” with no outward signs of its cause of death, according to the center.
But when researchers went to observe carcass again Thursday, they found it in very different condition. At least two white sharks had begun to make a meal of it, according to the center.
Researchers captured video of at least one of the predators snacking on the whale:
A spotter pilot for the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a Chatham-based nonprofit that supports shark research, also captured images of a white shark scavenging the carcass:
Yesterday, our spotter pilot Wayne Davis got a few images of a white shark next to the dead Minke whale off Truro. pic.twitter.com/FldEh9U47B
— Atlantic White Shark (@A_WhiteShark) August 5, 2016
The small whale’s remains washed up on Beach Point in North Truro Friday, which coupled with the report of sharks feeding on a carcass, prompted the closure of three beaches, according to The Cape Cod Times. The Center for Coastal Studies said the remains found on the beach were likely from the same carcass researchers had been studying in previous days.
According to the center, the data collected during the study of the carcass emphasized the importance of studying whales both while they’re alive, and dead.
“Had we not had the opportunity to closely examine this whale over the last 48 hours and witness firsthand the rapid deterioration of the carcass, we might have assumed that these reports represented separate individuals,” Scott Landry, Director of the Marine Animal Entanglement Response team at the Center, said. “How carcasses change over time is helpful in understanding the likelihood of discovering whale carcasses at sea and how this relates to our understanding of populations.”
The center cautioned members of the public to report remains found in the water since they are a significant food source for sharks.