What's in a name
Great whites are not the only sharks plying our waters. There are basking sharks, blue sharks, brown sharks, and of course the small shark we call dogfish.
All have names that make sense, based on what the animals do, or how they look. And then there’s the shark with a name from left field:
A porbeagle is a species of mackerel shark. The odd name may be due to their physical resemblance to porpoises -- combined with what people describe as their “beagle-esque” hunting style, almost like they’re sniffling through the water following a scent.
These gray and white sharks, up to eight feet long, were caught by fishermen decades ago and sometimes fetched a better price than haddock and cod.
Nowadays porbeagles are not classified as “endangered,” but are considered vulnerable to overfishing. Our fishermen encounter them as by-catch, much as they try to avoid that; whenever possible, they are released alive. Commercial activity occurs outside of state waters and porbeagles must be landed with head, fins, and tail naturally attached to the carcass -- a tactic designed to stop “finning,” harvesting only shark fins for the lucrative Asian market.
A new stock assessment, scheduled for 2019, should offer insight into whether these measures are helping the porbeagle rebound.