A shark was discovered on a Cape Cod beach Thursday, making it the third this week that may have fallen victim to bitter cold temperatures.

Three thresher sharks, which measure about 14 feet long, have washed up on beaches in Orleans and Wellfleet since Christmas.

“What may have happened in this case is a sudden drop in temperature associated with this cold snap that we’re all experiencing right now," said Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. "And that’s probably caught these sharks off guard, and they’re trying to move rapidly south. What they’re doing is bumping into Cape Cod and getting trapped in Cape Cod Bay, and that’s causing these issues.”

The three sharks died from being stranded. Skomal emphasized the strandings appear to be a natural event, and there's no indication of what he called "foul play." He said it's common for one thresher shark to strand on the Cape in a season, but three in one week is unusual.

A thresher shark washed up on a shore in Wellfleet.
Courtesy of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

"We want the folks out there who are walking the beaches — who dare walk the beaches in this weather — if they see these things, please report them to the Division of Marine Fisheries or the New England Aquarium," he added.

The Atlantic Shark Conservancy and state and federal officials collected organ and tissues samples to help research the sharks and their deaths. The conservancy is raising money for equipmentto help them respond to shark strandings.

The geography of Cape Cod also traps hundreds of sea turtles each winter. So far, more than 260 have been rescued and brought to the New England Aquarium’s sea turtle hospital.