KEY POINTS

  • A six-gill shark was found washed up ashore in Bainbridge Island, Washington, on Monday
  • The shark is one of several that have died after ingesting fishing gear
  • Experts urge fishermen to keep their lines fresh to avoid breakage

A shark was found washed up on the shore of Bainbridge Island in Washington after ingesting fishing gear.

On Monday, officials discovered the shark with a coastal serf perch rig stuck in its stomach. The shark, a six-gill, is a type that is common in Puget Sound during the summer, although it can also be found worldwide.

"The reason that they are in the Puget right now is because they're pupping, so this is their nursery habitat, which is why it's not really unusual to see a six-gill wash up occasionally. We do get some every few years," Lisa Hillier from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told Q13 Fox News.

Six-gill sharks should not be a cause for concern as they are known to naturally avoid people, according to wildlife experts.

This is the third shark to wash ashore in the area this year. Hillier has urged fishermen to keep lines fresh to avoid breakage and also to let go of sharks immediately if they get caught in a hook or a line.

Just last week, a male six-gill shark also washed up along Rockaway Beach in Bainbridge Island. The shark measured 9 feet long and also died after ingesting fishing gear, Kitsap Sun reported. Hillier was also one of the officials to examine the dead shark.

Judging by the number of strandings and sightings reported by divers, there seems to be an increase in six-gill activity over the last two years, according to Kelly Andrews, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“It seems to work in cycles,” he said, “where they’re abundant at certain times, and they leave and abundance is low, and they get recruitment events where the population size increases in Puget Sound.”

Contrary to how movies and the media portray sharks, Andrews said the creatures are an important part of the ecosystem.

“Sharks are a really vital component of the ecosystem. Sixgills help in particular to take animals that are already dead and recycle the nutrients back into the system. They’re extremely important and not something to fear, they’re something to appreciate,” he explained.

Sharkfest Sharkfest returns in July 2020. Photo: Didier Noirot