Shark Chokes to Death on Sea Lion While Beachgoers Watch

Image: Shark
A great white shark shows signs of distress in shallow waters off the coast of Western Australia.CadMonkey via YouTube

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A great white shark that washed ashore apparently choked to death while trying to gulp down a large sea lion, Western Australia's Department of Fisheries said Thursday. The 13-foot-long shark, whose thrashings were caught on a viral video, showed no signs of injury or disease, principal research scientist Rory McAuley said. But investigators did find the sea lion stuck in the shark's throat.

"It is possible that the shark was trying to dislodge the blockage. Such a large object may have damaged the shark's internal organs or impeded water flow into his gills, contributing to his death," McAuley said in a statement. "Alternatively, the shark may have accidentally become stranded in his attempts to get rid of the obstruction." Onlookers watched the tagged shark struggle for hours on July 12, and the same shark apparently washed ashore at Coronation Beach two days later. "Looks like he may have bit off more than he could chew," said a witness whose YouTube video drew 1.1 million views.

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