Beachgoers were treated to a jarring sight—and smell—on the western shore of Alabama's Mobile Bay Saturday when they discovered dozens of dead bull sharks. "We kept smelling this awful smell every time a gust of wind would come," a beachgoer tells FOX6. "We [checked] the beach next door and we found it was just lined with sharks." WKRG reports close to 100 sharks were found, though the Alabama Marine Resources Division puts the number at 57, per AL.com. One tourist says about 40 sharks were entangled in a single net. "It appears somebody put out a gill net and some of these sharks swam into the net and got tangled—and with sharks, if they are not moving in the water, they die," AMRD rep Chris Blankenship tells WPMI.
A man tells WKRG that he observed someone "put this big gill net out there" in the water. As of Saturday morning, there was "a lot of stuff flopping in it." Officials suspect someone tried to free the sharks from the net before leaving them on the beach. "It is difficult since there are no markings on the net or since there [weren't] any people to know if the persons were licensed or using it illegally," Blankenship says, adding the animals appear to be juvenile bull sharks, possibly born in March or April. Officials are investigating and tell the public to report unattended gill nets to the Marine Resources Division. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab says the dead sharks will be studied by its shark expert. (Read more Alabama stories.)