This Shark Stomach Full of Human Body Pieces, Police Investigate the Mystery of Male Death in Argentina
Sharks eat fishermen’s fishing bait. The discovery of a human body in the stomach of a tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) that died in Argentina has shocked fishermen. Photo/Live Science
BUENOS AIRES – The discovery of a human body found in the stomach of a tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) that died in Argentina has shocked fishermen. However, oceanographers say it is unlikely that this species of shark would attack and kill humans.
Police are also continuing to investigate the mystery of the death of an Argentinian man, Diego Barria, 32 years old from Chubut Province in Patagonia. Spanish media El País reported that Barria was reportedly last seen on February 18, 2023 and four days later police found his damaged helmet and vehicle on the waterfront.
There is no Barria’s body around the location, thus adding to the mystery surrounding the man’s disappearance. But on February 26, 2023, local fishermen caught three tope sharks, or soupfin, near the shore.
When the fishermen were cleaning the shark’s stomach, found a human forearm, as well as human remains. The fishermen turned the human remains over to police, who identified a specific tattoo on the wrist of the forearm that matched one of Barria’s tattoos.
DNA tests are now being carried out to prove definitively that the remains belong to Barria. However, it is unlikely that the shark killed Barria. Instead, police suspect that the man most likely died after colliding with a rock while driving a sea vehicle and his body being washed away and partially eaten by a shark.
“In my opinion, that’s exactly what happened. It is highly unlikely that the shark (tope) killed Barria,” Gregory Skomal, a marine biologist at Boston University and head of the shark program at Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, told Live Science Monday (6/3/2023).
Tope sharks or school sharks (Galeorhinus galeus) are of medium to large size which are found all over the world. The shark that was caught by fishermen, and ate Barria’s arm, was about 1.5 meters long.
Tope sharks hunt for food on the seabed preying on flatfish and sardines, sometimes also eating larger fish and squid in the open sea. Gavin Naylor, a marine biologist at the University of Florida who compiled the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said it was highly unlikely that the tope shark attacked humans.
Because, the human body is too big to be preyed upon by tope sharks. “It’s practically unheard of for this species to kill humans,” he told Live Science.
Conversely, Naylor and Skomal suspect that the shark opportunistically scavenged Barria’s body parts. The tope shark is often hunted by fishermen for its meat, fins and liver, which are commonly consumed by humans, so this species is listed as “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.