Watch: Dozens of dead sharks wash up on Welsh beach
Marine experts are investigating the deaths of dozens of small sharks that have washed up on a beach in Wales.
Between 25 and 30 starry smooth-hounds – named because of their speckled white spots – were discovered scattered across the sand on Prestatyn beach in Denbighshire on Tuesday morning.
Passers-by posted videos and pictures of the fish to social media before British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) arrived at the site to take samples.
In a post on Facebook, North Wales coordinator at BDMLR, Gem Simmons, urged people to avoid touching and moving the sharks from the beach.
She said she had tried to take samples, but the sharks had "fallen prey to herring gulls".
Simmons told the BBC she was working with Marine Environmental Monitoring to determine how the sharks had washed up on the beach.
She said: "What we wanted was to take samples of the gills, to see if this has happened as a result of by-catch (in fishing nets).”
Simmons said there had been some reports of illegal fishing in the area in recent months but was unable to make any connection as yet.
Shark Guardian, a charity focused on the conservation of sharks, told Yahoo News UK that one possible reason the sharks died was from being discarded as bycatch from fishing activity due to damage around the gills.
Director Brendon Sing added: “Often these sharks are not the target species for fishing but are often caught and discarded.
“If here have been reports of fishing activity in the area this would make sense.”
Smooth-hound sharks are widespread in UK waters and mainly feed on crustaceans and shellfish.
Other similar sharks have washed up on the beach in the past but not in such large numbers.
In 2014 marine biologists suggested that bottom trawling – where boats use large nets with heavy weights to drag the sea floor – was to blame for 55 small sharks washing up on Pwll Du beach in Wales.
Yahoo News UK has contacted Marine Environmental Monitoring for a comment.