The Great White Shark Mystery of Newport Beach

This much is known: Something bad happened to a juvenile shark in Newport Beach last weekend.

But was it a great white that was left near the shore with its head cut off (keeping in mind those are protected in California waters)?

Was it a mako (which are OK to slay)?

Was it left on Newport Pier like yesterday’s bait fish?

Was it a private dock?

What gives?

This bout of confusion was brought to you by social media. That’s Social Media; ask for it by name!

Drew Yanina posted the photo below on Instagram.

You can see from the caption that Newport Pier is given as the location.

Next we move to Ocean Ramsey, a conservationist who swims with sharks and, based on her Google image reel, does some modeling. Here’s one shot of her … 
… and here’s what she posted on Instagram:

As you can read, she also gives Newport Pier as the location, and like Yanina refers to the victim as a baby great white shark. Yanina and Ramsey get support in their views from Chris Lowe, a Cal State Long Beach shark expert, who also identifies the carcass as belonging to a great white shark.

Two problems, though: Newport Pier does not have a wooden slats as shown in the photos. Neither does Balboa Pier. And the shape of the shark’s tail indicates it’s a mako, Ryan Lawler, a longtime Newport Beach fisherman and Newport Ocean Adventures owner, tells the Orange County Register. He surmises it was left behind on a dock by a fishing boat.

Some of the mystery was solved by NBC4, which may have interviewed the first to encounter the dead shark. Madi Makoff and Clay Kirksey, who are both 16 and attend Huntington Beach High School, took to social media after seeing men in their 30s and 40s goofing around with the shark—throwing the head around, taking fake bikes, snapping photos—before leaving it to rot.

“I thought it was fake at first, but then I saw the streaming blood,” said Kirksey, who added there was blood “dripping everywhere.”

This happened not near the pier but the Lido Peninsula, where the fellows playing with the shark had just departed a fishing boat.

In the wake of the news and social media coverage, their names were forwarded to California Fish and Wildlife for presumed government inaction.

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