Did a dead sand tiger shark wash up on the beach in Galveston, Texas, in April 2021? No, that's not true: However, such a shark did wash up in North Topsail Beach, North Carolina, in mid-April 2021.
The claim that a beached shark was found in Galveston appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published April 26, 2021. The post included two photos of a beached shark, its mouth gaping open showing rows of sharp teeth. The post read:
Y'all like to swim in Galveston look what's laying here
This is what the post looked like on Facebook on April 28, 2021:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Apr 28 18:37:46 2021 UTC)
The pictures in the post are identical to those found in coverage about a shark that was spotted in North Topsail Beach. North Carolina's Weather Authority posted about the shark on April 19, 2021, and North Carolina news station WNCT featured the pictures in its Coastal Report. The latter attributed the pictures to a beachgoer who spotted the shark on the beach. The layout of the pictures in the Galveston Facebook post is also exactly the same as the layout posted by NBC 24 News meteorologist Eric Zernich on April 20, 2021.
Lead Stories reached out to Lauren Novack, office coordinator of coastal zone management in Galveston, on April 28, 2021,to find out whether any shark had washed ashore around the time the Facebook claim was published. Novack said the pictured shark "definitely wasn't here," and that, as of when we spoke, no whales or sharks had washed ashore on Galveston beaches in the past year. She added that most of the animals that wash ashore are dolphins and smaller sea creatures such as turtles.
In an email to Lead Stories on April 28, 2021, David Wells, an associate professor in the department of marine biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston, confirmed that the shark pictured was most likely a sand tiger shark. While possible, it is rare to find a sand tiger shark in Galveston waters, he said:
It is not a very common shark to our region but they are found in the northern Gulf of Mexico and off the Texas coast.