Marine biologists believe the brain infection explains why the shark was outside of its natural deep-water habitat and eventually caused their deaths near Newlyn Harbour, Cornwall
A dead shark that washed up on a Cornwall beach had meningitis, a post-mortem revealed.
In what was said to be a world-first autopsy, the study showed the Greenland shark had the deadly brain infection.
The female shark, believed to be around 100 years old, was found by walkers near Newlyn Harbor last month.
Scientists studying the creature said it’s likely the first time a species has been found with the disease.
They explained that meningitis could provide clues as to why the shark was outside of its natural habitat in shallow water, leading to it being stranded.
Marine biologists still considered the animal to be “young” because Greenland sharks can live up to 400 years.
However, the experts said there was not enough evidence to link the disease to man-made problems.
CSIP project manager Rob Deaville told the BBC that sharks can be influenced by human pressure.
“This unfortunate and extraordinary stranding has allowed us to glimpse the life and death of a species we know little about,” he said.
“The discovery that this shark had meningitis is probably a world first, but the relevance of this in relation to broader stressors is unknown.
“Ultimately, like most marine life, deep-sea species like Greenland sharks can also be affected by human pressure on the ocean, but there isn’t enough evidence at this time to make any connections.”
The Cornwall Marine Pathology Team performed the autopsy.
Veterinary pathologist James Barnett, of the Cornwall Marine Pathology Team, said the brain was “discolored and congested” while the fluid around the brain was “cloudy”.
A strain of bacteria isolated from fluid around the brain is believed to be the cause of meningitis.
The Zoological Society of London’s Cetacean Strandings Investigation Program found the shark had damage to its fins and silt in its stomach.
They believe this suggests she may have been alive when washed up on the beach.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/dead-shark-found-washed-up-26665901 A dead shark that washed up on a Cornwall beach had the world's first case of meningitis