As were were dragging the huge net (see sgbeachbum.blogspot.com/2011/05/fish-net-cleanup-semakau-28may2011.html) across the shallow mudflat, I noticed a small white triangular object in the water about 50metres away. I did ask out aloud.. "Hey, what's that over there?" but the rest of the group were too pre-occupied with dragging the heavy carelessly abandoned net across the semi-soft mudflat.
After reaching a clear spot on the mudflat where we decided to work on separating the nets, someone exclaimed that the white 'thing' was the fin of a shark on its side. Instantly, the whole group of eight forgot about the nets and headed towards the white fin.
It was a male black-tip reef shark and quite clearly either really comatose or really dead although it looked perfectly fine and healthy. No signs of trauma on its body at all. Still just to be sure, we made sure to keep our hands away from its mouth in case it came to.
There was only a tiny (about 5mm x 0.5mm long) marine leech wriggling on one side of the shark's body. At 1.2m long, the shark was heavy too. I estimated its weight at between 15 to 20 kilos.
James did his best as a shark whisperer to try to see if it would regain its glory and come to life. He even tried 'swimming' the shark in the shallows by giving it a boost pushing its tail hoping that some speed through the water would do it some good but it was already past its time. (We did suggest to him to try CPR but he respectfully declined.)
None of us could figure out why the healthy looking specimen was dead on its side. It did not look like it had gotten caught in some fisherman's net or line. Perhaps it was just its time. At 1.2m, this may be a normal adult size for this particular species of black tip reef shark.
We left it in the shallows where we had found it.
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