South American Fishermen Catch Shark with the Remains of a Missing Person In Its Stomach

Local authorities say the man’s body was likely pulled out to sea during high tide tide after an ATV accident on the beach. Christel SAGNIEZ via Pixabay.

Two fishermen in the Patagonian province of Chubut, Argentina, discovered the remains of a missing person while cleaning a five-foot school shark they caught on Sunday, February 26. Provincial police said 32-year-old Diego Barría had been missing for eight days after what appeared to be an ATV accident on the beach.

Barría was last seen riding his all-terrain vehicle late on February 18 near a remote beach known as Rocas Coloradas—25 miles north of the city of Comodoro Rivadavia on the Gulf of Saint George. According to El Pais, he had stopped to greet some fishing friends just before midnight and texted his wife to let her know that he would be returning home late. 

When Barría failed to respond to text messages and phone calls the next day and didn’t return home again the next night, his family reported him to the police as a missing person. After a 40-hour search, police found his four-wheeler totaled near large rocks on the beach. They also found his helmet split in two. But there were no signs of Barría, himself.

Eight days after search and rescue efforts began, the information provided by two fishermen offered clues as to what had happened. In one of the three school sharks they’d caught, they found a forearm with a tattoo of a green and red rose. They delivered the evidence to police, and Barría’s family identified the remains based on the tattoo.

Authorities are still investigating the case, but police commissioner Cristian Ansaldo told local media that Barría likely collided with a rock while driving his ATV, washed into the water at high tide, and was later consumed by the shark. After news of the tragedy emerged, hundreds of well-wishers left condolences on Barría’s wife’s Facebook page. “There are no words to temper such pain, only time will help,” said one friend. “May God give you strength to overcome so much pain.”  

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School sharks are long, thin, gray predators that commonly grow to six feet in length. They typically feed on a wide range of small to medium-sized fish and invertebrates, including sardines, flatfish, rockfish, and squid. Listed as a vulnerable species, they are considered harmless to humans.

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