Everybody out of the water!
Sheringham Shark Shenanigans by Chris Taylor.
Unless you've been buried under Christmas tree needles the last couple of
weeks you will have noticed that Sheringham recently made the national news with stories
of a Great White Shark prowling our coastline!
Of course The Sun sensationalized the story as only they know how and the local press had
a mini-media feeding frenzy but behind the clichéd JAWS theme and the fictional 'shark
hunt' there is the fact that the injuries on this unfortunate piniped have roused genuine
When I initially
photographed the seal carcass it was purely for the purpose of sending to a shark
specialist to see what they made of it, Dr Ken Collins at the National Oceanographic
Centre in Southampton responded stating he could 'see no reason why this wouldn't be a
large shark, there are plenty of predatory sharks in UK waters'. Dr Collins suggested that
The Sun would probably be very interested in my photos, I sent them in and sure enough the
next day the phone was ringing non-stop.
The upside of the media interest was that a number of UK shark experts
contacted me for further images, Douglas Herdson of the National Marine Aquarium wrote 'If
it was not a shark, I do not know what it was. All too often "shark bites" are
the scavenging marks of birds feeding on the carcass, but this certainly is not.'
Davie Tait an ex-Fishery Scientist for the Marine Laboratory in Aberdeen stated 'I can
clearly make out teeth marks. Whether it was a Great White or not I cannot say, Porbeagles
have been known to scavenge dead cetaceans but this doesn't look like a scavenge type
bite, more likely the main initial bite after which a shark left the seal to bleed to
Then things started to get really interesting, I received an email from Malcolm Francis a
world renowned Great White shark expert in New Zealand, he wrote 'I guess such a bite
could be made by a very large Mako shark but a Great White still seems more likely'.
Shortly after that I received a mail from Great White expert Dr Henry Mollet, based in
Monterey, California, home to one of the world's largest Great White populations, Dr
Mollet stated that going on a bite radius of 12-13 inches this would indicate a white
shark between 3-4 metres long - a tiddler really!
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