Dead bull shark found in Sembawang Shipyard

SINGAPORE - Workers at Sembawang Shipyard were surprised to see a dead juvenile bull shark, about a metre long, when they pumped a dock dry before dawn this month.

They snapped photos and sent them to citizen journalism site Stomp. Mr Arjun Nair, a 19-year-old

technician at the shipyard, told The Straits Times his friend initially claimed he had found and killed the shark at the shipyard, and that workers later cut it up and took portions home for food.

But a spokesman for Sembawang Shipyard clarified that the shark had swum into the dock - when a ship was berthed there - and was trapped when the water was pumped out, at around 3am on Oct 3.

"When the dock was pumped dry, our workers did not know that it was a shark and thought it was only a big fish," she said. Fish are sometimes trapped in the dry dock.

The unidentified fish and other items of floating rubbish were placed into a canvas bag, which was lifted out of the dock by a crane as usual, and placed at dockside for disposal. When the bag was opened, the workers were shocked to see that it was a shark, which by then was dead, she added.

"This is the first time in more than 40 years of docking operations that we have encountered a shark," she said. The spokesman did not say how the shipyard disposed of the shark.

The shipyard alerted the Maritime and Port Authority, she added, in case there were other sharks in the area. The shipyard is located on the island's northern edge.

Marine biologist Chou Loke Ming said there are sharks in Singapore waters. But sightings, mostly in the Southern Islands, are rare.

"Bull sharks are known to be aggressive," he said. "It is unlikely that there are many at Sembawang or anywhere in Singapore waters."

Bull sharks, which can grow to more than 3m in length, are native to tropical and subtropical coastal waters off Borneo, Australia and the Gulf of Thailand. Singapore is not known for many shark attacks.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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