A deceased pregnant great hammerhead shark washed up on an Alabama beach on Thursday, officials say.
Beachgoers spotted the shark near the shore in Orange Beach. They pulled the 14-foot animal ashore before the city's coastal resources employees arrived.
Though it was a sad sight, city officials were enthused about the opportunity to examine a shark that was so well-preserved.
"While it was very sad that it passed, we were excited about the rare opportunity of seeing a Great hammerhead in such good condition," the City of Orange Beach Coastal Resources' Facebook post read. "We immediately started contacting various agencies to see who had availability to come gather data from this unique specimen."
Photos show that workers needed to hoist the shark onto a truck to transport her. Employees contacted a Mississippi State University professor about performing an autopsy on the deceased animal.
A research team was promptly sent to study the dead shark.
During the necropsy, researchers found 40 shark pups in the mother's body.
"While it is sad, it is very rare to find a large pregnant female, and the data collected will be tremendously helpful in learning about Great hammerhead fecundity," the Facebook post added.
"We are very thankful that our staff was able to get the shark off of the beach, protected from the elements, and iced down within a few short hours of the initial call," the post added. "This was definitely an experience that we won't forget, and we are grateful to have played a small role in this unique case."