TV historian calls for return of head of rare shark washed up on UK beach
TV historian Dan Snow is leading calls for the return of the head and tail of an “exceptionally rare” shark which was found dead on a beach in the New Forest.
The body of the shark, believed to be a smalltooth sand tiger, was found by walkers on Lepe Beach near Southampton on Saturday and was seen by the broadcaster.
But Mr Snow said that before the body could be recovered by biologists to study it, the head and tail had been removed.
He has joined calls for the remains to be returned so they can be studied by experts.
We went to secure the shark for science last night. But we were too late!Please please- of you have the head get in touch. The scientists want to have a look at it and then it's yours to keep. https://t.co/gS8SYQxAp4
— Dan Snow (@thehistoryguy) March 19, 2023
He posted on Twitter: “We went to secure the shark for science last night. But we were too late! Please please- of you have the head get in touch. The scientists want to have a look at it and then it’s yours to keep.
“Biologist friends like @Ben_garrod identified it as an exceptionally rare visitor to these shores and asked me secure it. The head, tail and fin were grabbed before I get assemble a big enough team to drag it off the beach to the nearest road.
“It is not illegal to take parts from dead fish washed ashore so there’s no judging but if you took the head please get in touch, let the scientists have a look and then it’s yours to keep.”
A spokesman for The Shark Trust said the discovery was an “exciting” find.
He said: “Although not able to examine the shark first-hand, several photographs have been circulated, and Shark Trust staff and colleagues identified the shark as a smalltooth sandtiger (Odontaspis ferox).
Yesterday's reports of a stranded #shark proved especially exceptional as images indicated it was a Smalltooth Sandtiger, rare within its range let alone the UK South Coast!Saddened to hear that the head & tail were removed by the cover of darkness. https://t.co/18lys7GtMg pic.twitter.com/E9O1buUqVZ
— The Shark Trust (@SharkTrustUK) March 19, 2023
“Despite their circumglobal distribution, smalltooth sandtigers are seldom encountered and considered naturally rare.
“In the north-east Atlantic their range reaches to the French coast at the top of the Bay of Biscay, making this report an exceptional one.
“A large shark – growing to 4m in length – smalltooth sandtigers feed on small fish and squid, putting their long, slender teeth to good use. Usually found towards the seabed, this is a globally vulnerable species, with numbers thought to be in decline.
“With smalltooth sandtigers likely exceptionally rare visitors north of Biscay, this report is an exciting one.
“And while efforts were made to secure the specimen for research, recent images show that the shark was butchered overnight with the head and tail removed.
“The head in particular holds the key to unlocking intricate details of the shark’s life, even from before birth, so we’d welcome news of its whereabouts.
“Sighting records like this help shape our knowledge of species distributions. This sighting may have been a vagrant, but by maintaining records of occasional finds new patterns may start to emerge, making all records important.”