Sharks are dying of ‘cold shock,’ and other signs of just how frigid it is out there

Matthew Martinez — The Sacramento Bee Dec 30

It was so cold Wednesday in Massachusetts that the bodies of two thresher sharks turned up dead on the coast of Cape Cod Bay. They washed ashore after the pair of males succumbed to “cold shock,” according to a Facebook post from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

Frozen shark washed up on the shore of cape Cod this past week. Click to enlarge

Frozen shark washed up on the shore of cape Cod this past week. Click to enlarge

“Both of these male sharks were nearly the same size and likely stranded due to cold shock,” the post read. “Morphometric data, organs and tissue samples were collected to be examined (once they thaw).”

The sharks washed up on Wellfleet and Skaket beaches, the conservancy said in a response to a question in the comments of its post. Wellfleet and Skaket beaches are about 60 miles offshore from Boston, to the southeast.

“This is very rare,” said Michelle Wcisel, program director for the conservancy. “The usual suspects are sea turtles who get trapped by the bay and get cold shocked.”

The Weather Channel reports the low temperature near the bay Wednesday was 17 degrees. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says recent water temperatures in the area have been as cold as 33.3 degrees.

Cold shock —or the sudden lowering of skin temperature —in humans results in at least three potentially lethal shock responses,” according to the National Center for Cold Water Safety. Those responses are the loss of breathing control, heart-rate and blood pressure spikes and mental problems like disorientation and panic.

Wcisel said the pair of sharks, whose gills effectively stopped breathing when they experienced cold shock, will help researchers understand sea-dwelling animals’ response to the condition. The conservancy is asking for donations to its fundraiser to help their representatives respond better to sharks that end up stranded on the beach.

But there are more examples of just how cold it is getting as the Arctic storm has settled in over the Northeast here as 2017 winds down.

It’s so cold that:

People making their own “snow.”

At Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire, the highest peak in the Northeast, one weather observer captured video as the minus-31-degree air turned a pitcher of boiling water into crystallized water flurries.

But that game isn’t all, well, fun and games. As more and more people tried to replicate the moment, more and more social media reports of scalding burns on people’s hands and arms poured in as well.

A dog froze ‘solid’ on a porch.

In Toledo, Ohio, authorities are pursuing charges against a dog owner whose American Bullie named Nanas was found “frozen solid” on the front porch, according to the Toledo Blade.

Nanas died, and Toledo Area Humane Society investigators rescued another shivering, underweight pup named Haze from inside the house, where the utilities had been disconnected, according to WTVG.

The Weather Channel warned those living in the East and the Midwest to expect record low temperatures through Tuesday.

Erie, Penn. is buried.

A two-day record snowfall for a 48-hour stretch fell on Erie starting on Christmas Eve, when 58 inches fell, according to the Washington Post.

It got up to 60 inches, and they were still counting as of Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.


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