SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- A dead great white shark washed ashore Sunday morning on a Santa Cruz County beach over the weekend, covered with several cuts. How it got there remains a mystery.
Getting close to a great white is a once in a lifetime experience that many beachgoers couldn't pass up.
"It is pretty sad to see such a majestic animal meet its demise," said Giancarlo Thomae. He's a marine biologist who captured several images of the shark washed up near Aptos.
PHOTOS: Dead great white shark washes ashore in Santa Cruz County
The creature was almost 9 feet long-not yet quite the size of a full-grown great white. "This is a sub-adult male, we think he's about 5 years old, weighs about 500 pounds," Thomae said.
The shark was covered with gashes and cuts but no serious external signs of trauma, according to an official with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The carcass was taken to their Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz for a necropsy.
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"After thoroughly checking the body for sea lion wounds and puncture wounds, those wounds are superficial so we do not think any of those would lead to the shark's death," said Thomae.
Shark sightings are common in Monterey Bay. Last year, a Great White struggled in the shallow waters off Pleasure Point. "In the previous year there have been many bacterial infections affecting the brain and other organs of the sharks, so my guess is they're going to try to examine the brain, do pathology of the brain and other vital organs," said Thomae.
Shark sightings have also driven up tourism as shark seekers hope to catch a glimpse of the real-life jaws.
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Great white shark washed up on Santa Cruz County beach had multiple injuries