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Stranded dogfish surprise biologist

"The temporary stranding of approximately 150 dogfish on the Sunlight Beach tidelands was not a common occurrence.I've never heard of that, ever, said Wayne Palsson, a biologist for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, this week. He could not be reached in time for the Aug. 30 Record story about the incident because he was working in the San Juans and his cellular telephone malfunctioned.Palsson said he has heard of many sea creatures, even wolf eels, becoming stranded, but the dogfish report was new to him. He said dogfish go by various names, including mudsharks, and are part of the shark family.Sunlight Beach residents awakened Aug. 25 to two shallow pools with about 75 shark fins protruding from each, as the 2- to-3-foot-long dogfish looked for a way out of their predicament. Several hours later the tide came in and they escaped.Palsson said the sharks probably chased a school of herring onto the tidelands and were caught in a fast-moving spring tide which left them stranded before they could react.In the meantime, kids and adults walked among the sharks, and even picked up a few. Palsson said being so close to the dogfish wasn't particularly dangerous. They can bite you if you're not quick enough, he said, but he also said the warm tidepools probably slowed them down. The sharks barely reacted when touched.Salmon anglers consider dogfish a nuisance, but their numbers may be declining, according to Palsson. Some people don't like dogfish, but they may be in decline, he said. Sample fisheries for biologists show fewer dogfish in the nets, he said, and recreational anglers report fewer incidental catches when they're trying to catch salmon. Dogfish eat small fish and crabs. They grow several feet in length, mature at between eight and 20 years of age, and live 60 years or longer. "

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