Critter washed up on Cornwall Avenue beach is spiny dogfish


A small spiny dogfish shark washed up on a beach in southwest Bellingham.

MATTHEW THOMPSON — The Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM - The small spiny dogfish is one of 11 species of sharks to call the Puget Sound home, according to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

The coastal shark can be found in shallow bays from Alaska to central California.

Beach walkers get to see them when they wash up, as was the case recently with one found on the beach off Cornwall Avenue in Bellingham.

A photo was sent to Professor Ted Pietsch, curator of fishes at the Burke, who identified it as a spiny dogfish.

The shark is common in Puget Sound and can live 40 years and longer.

It can grow to a maximum of 5.2 feet, but adults usually are 2 to 4 feet long, according to the Washington state Department of Fish & Wildlife.

They have pointed snouts that are narrow and white spots on their bodies, which are gray on top and white below.

Don't let its small size fool you: The spines in front of each of its two dorsal fins are sharp and mildly toxic.

It forms schools and eats a wide variety of fish and invertebrates.

Reach Kie Relyea at 360-715-2234 or .

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