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Great white under the knife and media glare in Newport

Posted October 3rd, 2009 by simmonto

A 12-foot great white shark that had the bad luck to get tangled recently in the ropes of a crab pot made a posthumous contribution to science last Thursday and Friday and became a media sensation in the process.

Researchers at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, the university’s Newport campus, performed a necropsy on the big guy over two days, televising much of the process via closed circuit to members of the media and public in an auditorium also at the Center. One might think carving up a dead fish wouldn’t be so appealing to news types, but when that creature is a relative of Jaws, the interest factor increases exponentially.

The Los Angeles Times wins points for most gruesome blog post related to the dissection display. Its coverage included a photo of the beast suspended in the bed of a pickup truck, its menacing teeth in full, frightening view. With the fish hung upside down, its length is even more impressive.

Eugene’s Register-Guard got in on the coverage, and an abbreviated version of its story popped up in other outlets, including Portland’s, via AP.

Hatfield Marine Education Specialist William Hanshumaker, also an Oregon Sea Grant Extension faculty member, coordinated the necropsy, which included scientists from OSU as well as other institutions.  Dr. Brion Benninger of Oregon Health & Science Univesity’s Neurological Sciences Institute took part, for instance. Samples from the necropsy are being shared with Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, Monterey Bay Aquarium and others.

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