OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Public invited to view dissection of great white shark at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center

09/30/2009

NEWPORT, Ore. – A 12-foot white shark – popularly known as a great white shark – that died in August after becoming entangled in the ropes of a crab pot, will become the focus of scientists this week during its dissection at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

The public is invited to view the necropsy, which will be performed over two days.

“It is a shame that the shark became entangled in the ropes and died, but the specimen still has a great deal of scientific and educational value,” said William Hanshumaker, the OSU center’s marine education specialist, who is coordinating the necropsy.

Hanshumaker, who also is a faculty member for Extension Sea Grant at OSU, will remove the shark from the freezer this Thursday, Oct. 1, and put it on public display in a roped-off section of the HMSC’s Visitor’s Center beginning at 10 a.m. Visitors may observe the shark via video camera in the Hennings Auditorium – including necropsy activities, which begin late Thursday afternoon.

At 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dr. Brion Benninger, of the Neurological Sciences Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, will remove the shark’s spinal accessory nerve, where it will be used in OHSU neurological studies.

On Friday, Oct. 2, a series of procedures is planned. Wade Smith, a doctoral student at OSU specializing in shark studies, will conduct measurements of the shark beginning at 11 a.m., and discuss his findings with a fishery biology class taught by OSU professor Scott Heppell. At 1 p.m., OSU students from two classes will examine the shark and hear experts present information on shark diversity, the white shark’s biology and movements, its unique features and conservation issues.

At 2 p.m., Tim Miller-Morgan of OSU will examine the shark for external parasites and at 2:30 p.m., Hanshumaker will measure the animal’s teeth and bite impression. At 3 p.m., Smith will conclude the dissection by collecting biological materials, the vertebra, muscle tissue, the dorsal fin and teeth – all of which have scientific value.

“There are researchers from throughout the country who are interested in what we’re doing here and have requested sample materials,” Hanshumaker said. “This also is an opportunity for the public to observe first-hand this unique creature and how scientists conduct research and share information.”

Samples from the white shark will be sent to:

  • Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station
  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game
  • University of California-Santa Cruz
  • California State University-Long Beach
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Nova Southeastern University.

The samples will provide data for studies ranging from genetics to toxicology, to age and growth data.