VIDEO: Young sharks swimming close to shore in Santa Cruz
Thursday night, a 10-foot-long juvenile female white shark was reported stranded and thrashing in the shallows at a beach near 24th St. in Live Oak, between Santa Cruz and Capitola. But by Friday morning, the shark's first dorsal fin had been hacked off. Most of its teeth had also been removed. Both actions are against state law.
"I know that they're worth money, but in the long run, it's a dead animal," says Kelsey Wollert, Boulder Creek resident. "Just leave it alone, or if anything, just give it to science."
Local shark experts say the animal had severe cuts to its head and may have been hit by a boat propeller. For now, it's unclear if it was already sick prior to passing, but fish and wildlife officials will conduct a necropsy in the coming days.
"The pathology, any anomalies, pollutant loads, all this stuff is super valuable," says Sean Van Sommeran of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation.
Authorities are now trying to find the person responsible for taking the fin and will be reviewing surveillance video from the area in the coming days. Some people are disappointed this all happened in the first place.
"Just the fact that it is illegal and that they could be selling it (shark fin) somewhere around here," said Michael Stark, Menlo Park resident.
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Beachgoers say there have been more shark sightings along the Santa Cruz coastline than normal.
"They're big and pretty animals," says Jack Wolf, Menlo Park resident. "They're scary cause they're always out here and there's nothing you can do about it."
Shark fins are worth thousands of dollars on the black market.