Published: Sep 23, 2010 5:47 PM EDT
Updated: Sep 23, 2010 2:47 PM EDT

BONITA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - A dead hammerhead shark that washed ashore on Bonita Beach is being used as a research tool at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Researchers say it's rare to be able to study dead sharks since most dead marine animals get eaten by other creatures. Since there were no signs of decay, this shark presented a rare opportunity.

The school's co-director of the Coastal Watershed Institute is interested in the shark's live because, just like in humans, the liver filters out toxins and chemicals from the bloodstream. Mike Parsons says when a shark that was otherwise healthy dies, "it presents an opportunity to work with samples that are not degraded or compromised by other toxins."

A necropsy was done on the shark found early Tuesday morning. It was cut up, with organs and other tissue set aside for study.