A rare species of shark usually found around Brazil and Australia has been found on UK coastline for the first time in history.
The Crocodile Shark was found washed up on a beach near Plymouth, Devon by Steven Greenfields as he walked with his family at Hope Cove beach.
“My whole family was stunned as the animal had really unusual features but was unmistakably a shark,” he said.
“I have experience with sharks whilst swimming and diving overseas, but, despite a fair amount of fishing and swimming in the UK all my life, have never seen any shark in UK waters other than dogfish.”
Because the find was so unusual, Steven consulted the local aquarium to find out what it was, and experts declared it Pseudocarcharias kamoharai, or a Crocodile shark, and the first of its kind to be found in the UK.
Usually found in tropical waters, the Crocodile shark – listed as ‘near threatened’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – is the smallest living mackerel shark and usually only reaches one metre in length.
They can be spotted by their elongated cigar-shaped bodies, extremely large eyes, relatively small fins, and razor sharp teeth.
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James Wright, Curator at the National Marine Aquarium, said: “On first inspection of the photos we thought the animal could be a juvenile Porbeagle Shark, which is found in UK waters.
“However, we identified numerous traits which suggested it was not any shark usually recorded in UK waters.”
“Exploring our network of contacts led to successful identification by Marc Dando who is a local professional wildlife artist, whose work can be seen at the aquarium,” he added.
“This species has never been recorded in the UK before, as it is normally found in deep waters during the day in tropical climates, such as Brazil and Australia, then coming shallower at night to feed.
“It is likely to be an isolated incident, but there have been similar stranding incidents in South Africa. This time of year though UK waters are at their coldest so this occurrence is very unusual.”
He said the shark most likely would have gone into shock and died when it reached such cold waters.
Paul Cox, Managing Director of The Shark Trust, added: “They are relatively uncommon and the UK is well outside the shark’s usual range so it’s a really interesting find.”
(Top picture: SWNS)