WATCH HILL, R.I. - An endangered shark weighing "several hundred" pounds washed up on a Rhode Island beach Wednesday, giving researchers a rare opportunity to study the species.
The 8-foot, 8-inch female porbeagle appeared on Watch Hill/East Beach when the tide went out, the Atlantic Shark Institute said. It's not clear yet what happened to the shark, and a necropsy is planned in Narragansett.
"While unfortunate, at that size she can provide vital information to researchers and we hope to share more when the necropsy is completed," the institute said.
What is a porbeagle shark?
Executive Director Jon Dodd said the porbeagle is considered endangered in the northwest Atlantic Ocean. They don't mind the cold water, so they don't have as much competition from other shark species that head south in the winter.
"Porbeagle populations are down 80%-90% from their peak so learning all we can, from a mature female, will be important," Dodd tells WBZ-TV.
The New England Aquarium says porbeagles are relatives of the mako shark and great white sharks, and wash up on local beaches "on rare occasions." Studying the sharks after they died can help scientists learn more about "how they're affected by ocean use and the effects of climate change," the aquarium says.
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