DNA Identification of Human Remains Obtained from a Tiger SharkPublished on January 31, 2013
DNA Identification of Human Remains Obtained from a Tiger Shark
Sheria L. King, Shelley Johnson, Marisa Roe, Thomas Reynolds and Ellison E. Greenslade
CASE SUMMARY :
On September 4, 2010, a local investment banker caught a 12-foot tiger shark while on a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of New Providence, Bahamas. The angler was fishing for grouper when the large tiger shark was caught. The angler brought the shark inside the boat with the intent of releasing it. However, upon capture, the shark regurgitated a large piece of what appeared to be a human leg from its mouth. The banker called the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, who assisted in transporting the shark to the marine base, where scenes of crime officers (SOCO) of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) investigated (Figure 1). Upon examination, Defense Force officers found human remains including a right leg, two severed arms and a severed torso inside the shark. The RBPF suspected the human remains were those of one of two men who disappeared from a boat off Jaws Beach (named after an island where the 1987 sequel film “Jaws: The Revenge” was filmed). Jaws Beach is approximately 2 miles off the western coast of New Providence Island in the Bahamas. The suspected victim went on a boating trip with friends on August 29, 2010, and encountered engine trouble. The victim, along with another crewman, tried to swim to Jaws Beach after his boat’s engine failed; this was the last time the victim was seen alive, and he was suspected to have drowned. The SOCO collected evidence from the shark and immediately transported it to the Rand Lab (the medical examiner’s office) for forensic examination. The medical examiner determined the remains were human but could not determine the manner or cause of death and submitted samples for identification purposes to the RBPF Forensic Science Section (RBPF-FSS). It was unclear if the victim was alive when he was eaten. Initially, fingerprints were used to identify the victim, but human DNA identification was ultimately sought for resolution of this case. The RBPF-FSS contacted Fairfax Identity Laboratories (FIL) for DNA identification of the remains.
Promega Corporation, Profiles in DNA, 2013