A juvenile male basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) was found stranded at Whitesands beach near Sennen in Cornwall today, 11th August 2009. Volunteers from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network attended the stranding and ascertained that it was in suitable condition for post-mortem examination. CWTMSN volunteers then assisted with the retrieval and transport of the basking shark by Penwith local authority. A post-mortem examination was subsequently carried out by staff at the Veterinary Laboratory Agency (VLA) in Truro, under the collaborative UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme. James Barnett, veterinary pathologist at the VLA, said “This young male basking shark measured 4.21m. It was too long and too heavy to weigh, but it was in reasonable body condition and there was evidence that it had fed recently. It appeared to have a gastritis and there was some haemorrhage of the ventral gill slits which possibly may have been associated with live stranding”. Follow up investigations are pending and full results will be released shortly.
This is the first such examination carried out by the CSIP in England. Staff at the Scottish Agricultural College, Inverness carried out the first CSIP examination of a stranded basking shark in 2007.