Trinidad: Headless body with shark bites found floating
Autopsy: Man drowned
By Susan Mohammed, Trinidad Express Newspaper,
03. August 2012
THE SEARCH for a 24-year-old Mayaro man ended with fishermen finding a shark-bitten headless body last month.
The body of Shaka Galera, of Radix Village, was fished out at sea from the Plum Mitan river on July 23, three days after he disappeared.
An autopsy conducted by pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov concluded that he drowned, but that Galera had an impression of a bite across his upper body. Alexandrov said that based on the marks on the vertebrae, the head was bitten off by “a very large fish” which he believed was a shark.
Alexandrov said: “The marks on the body were reminiscent of teeth. To my understanding a bite through the solid vertebra requires a lot of force and very large teeth. The only animal, which in my opinion can do it, is a shark.”
Mayaro fisherman, Kelvon Sobion, said that sharks, which can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds and more than 15 feet in length had been spotted at Plum Mitan and Ortoire. Sobion said there were different species of sharks — bull, tiger and even mako sharks — which came in from the Atlantic Ocean.
Sobion said a few weeks ago fishermen caught a shark weighing several hundred pounds in that area.
Galera’s brother, Dainel Galera, 27, said he identified the body when it was returned to shore by the fishermen.
“What they found was not all of him”, he said. “They found from here (pointing to his chest) come down. It was his torso and legs. It was difficult for me, but I knew it was him. His feet were big, and I knew his toes, and on his arm he had a scar. On the autopsy it said shark bites”.
Galera was a graduate of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, a part-time DJ and wanted to open Mayaro’s first radio station.
On July 21, he set out on a fishing trip to try out a new boat owned by boat captain Renrick Gray, who is a close friend of the family.
Dainel Galera said his brother Shaka, two other men, and Gray, were some two miles at sea off a beach near Radix Village when Shaka jumped out of the boat to swim.
“He left on his shoes and he dived out of the boat and took a swim. But the current came in strong even though the water was calm and when he was swimming back to the boat he wasn’t reaching it. He took off his shoes and called out to them to come for him. They told him they coming and was trying to pull up the anchor. Apparently he caught a cramp, so they cut the anchor and started the engine. They had to turn the boat to go for him. But when they spun around there was no sign of him. They searched for two hours, but nothing”, Dainel Galera said. Gray contacted the Coast Guard and vessels from Point Galeota were dispatched to search the area.
The search continued over the next three days, with family, friends and fishermen combing the beaches, mangroves and seas from Mayaro to Manzanilla, until Shaka’s body was retrieved by fishermen some ten miles at sea from the Plum Mitan river.
Alexandrov said the circumstances dictated that he had drowned. “Although we did not have much material to examine, we did not see any evidence of trauma. The skeleton, except the cervical spine, was relatively intact. The cervical spine was cut off, indicative that (he was) bitten by fish with powerful jaws strong enough to go through the entire thickness of the vertebrae.
His internal organs were not eaten, they were decomposed”.
In May 2005, a six-foot-long hammerhead shark weighing 200 pounds, was found entangled in a net of a fishing pirogue that sank with three fishermen on board.
The bodies of the three fishermen — Nicholas Chance, Joseph Pierre, 15, and Timothy De Four, 23 — washed up at Ortoire Village days after they went missing, their bodies intact.
Source: The Trinidad Express Newspaper