Human remains found inside tiger shark

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

SYDNEY, Australia -- Police were trying Monday to identify human remains found in the belly of a 815-pound tiger shark caught off Australia's eastern coast -- including sifting through files of unsolved murders.

The 10-foot-long shark was caught Sunday in waters about 60 miles north of Sydney. Fishermen discovered a human skull, arm and pelvis inside it after cutting it open.

It was not clear how the remains came to be in the shark or whether the victim was dead or alive when eaten, but authorities said they are considering the possibility, among others, that the person was murdered and disposed of at sea.

"We've got to look at DNA, dental records, perhaps facial reconstruction. We don't know how long it's been in the water and we don't know how long it's been in the shark," Lake Macquarie police Detective Sergeant Murray Lundberg said Monday.

"We're going to have to search unsolved homicides," he said, without giving a specific reason to suspect it was a murder victim.

The discovery revived memories of Sydney's grisly "shark arm case" of 1935 in which a tiger shark caught and moved to an aquarium regurgitated a deliberately severed human arm with distinctive tattoos and a rope tied to the wrist. That victim was identified from fingerprints as Edward Smith, but no one was ever convicted of his murder.

An autopsy on the new remains was scheduled for Tuesday.

Fatal shark attacks are rare in Australia. Last year three swimmers were bitten by sharks, but all survived. The last recorded fatal attacks in Australia were in 2000, when there were three.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: