Head of hammerhead shark found off Alki Beach

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 7, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 8 at 5:22 PM

SEATTLE -- The head of a hammerhead shark found off Alki Beach over the weekend has local scientists scratching their heads.

West Seattle beachcombers have seen it all lately. A dead cow washed up last week. This week, a part of shark, the signature part of a hammerhead shark, washed up.

The shark was found on the south side of Alki Point on Saturday, in the area of 61st and Beach Drive, by a father, son and daughter.

"So my daughter and I were just spending some time walking on the beach," said Josh Crandall of West Seattle, "and looked down and saw this brown object and said, 'Wow, that kind of looks like a hammerhead shark.'"

The head was brought to scientists at the Unviersity of Washington Monday. After a short examination, Professor Vincent Gallucci of the UW School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences also agreed it appeared to be the head of a hammerhead.

Hammerhead sharks typically make their habitat in tropical, shallow waters. But Gallucci said it may be part of a growing number of strange arrivals of tropical sea creatures in Puget Sound.

As recently as January, bottlenose dolphins were spotted in Puget Sound, and were even captured on video. Byrde whales have also been seen swimming in Puget Sound.

But Gallucci cautioned the shark head may not have been attached to a shark that swam here. He said it could have been caught in Central America and dumped here by a fishing boat, or some other boat.

Gallucci said Puget Sound waters are definitely getting warmer and could be attracting some warm water species. He took samples of the suspected hammerhead and will send it off for tissue and DNA analysis.

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