‘World’s First’ Case: Greenland Shark died of Meningitis

On 15th March, the ZSL team spotted a dead female Greenland shark outside Newlyn Harbor in Cornwall. The experts gathered a proper post mortem report. A post mortem revealed that a rare Greenland shark found washed up on a Cornish beach died of meningitis.

Marine experts believe that the shark was over 100 years old. Moreover, they also believed that the discovery of this disease in the shark was “certainly a world’s first.”

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shark died of meningitis
(Image source: BBC)

In addition, the scientists said that there is insufficient evidence to link the disease to man-made stressors like pollution. “Ultimately, like most marine life, deep sea species such as Greenland sharks may also be impacted by human pressures on the ocean but there is not enough evidence at this stage to make any connections.”

According to the veterinary pathologist there was an isolated bacterial strain from the fluid surrounding the brain. Which was likely to be the source of the meningitis. The brain was “discolored and congested,” and the fluid around the brain was hazy. This was one of the clear indications that the shark had a brain disease.

The pathology team from the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) discovered that there was some damage to the shark’s fins and silt in her stomach. This implied that she was alive when stranded. Furthermore, the project lead, Rob Deavilla said that the discovery of the shark has “has allowed us to get an insight into the life and death of a species we know little about.”

It is believed that the shark was suffering from the brain infection, that is why she was out of her natural habitat. Usually sharks stay 2.5km below the surface of the Arctic and North Atlantic Ocean. Greenland sharks can live to be over 400 years old, therefore it is still classified a ‘juvenile’.

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