Dozens of spiny dogfish sharks washed up on beaches along the Jersey Shore last weekend.
And while it’s still not clear what caused the deaths, officials believe it most likely was a natural occurrence.
Conservation officers saw roughly 60 decayed dogfish during their patrols in Atlantic County, according to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. Those sharks were found from Brigantine to Longport.
Others were found as far north as Long Beach Island in Ocean County, state conservation officer Jason Snellbaker told NBC10.
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"Most of the fish were decomposed and decayed so those fish were out probably at sea for a while," Snellbaker said.
Some theories have arisen, but nothing has been proven. One theory is that the dogfish may have gotten caught on a salt marsh in a back bay during an extreme high tide followed by an outgoing tide, dying either there or in a tidal pool. It’s also possible another high tide carried the dogfish to sea, with strong winds pushing them onto the beach.
Another theory is that a sudden, extreme change in water temperature could have stunned the sharks — with fatal consequences.
Dogfish are members of the shark family that are commercially fished within state waters.
"I don't believe it's cause for any alarm at this point," Snellbaker said.