Crocodile sharks are usually found in warm tropical waters, close to the equator, so it came as quite a surprise when one washed up on a beach in South Devon earlier this week.
Experts are puzzled as to how the shark ended up on a British beach. One theory is that the shark followed a warm deep water current from his native seas, before reaching cold waters where it could not survive. Another possible explanation is that the shark was caught in a fishing net and then simply discarded close to the Devon coastline.
“On first inspection of the photos we thought the animal could be a juvenile porbeagle shark, which is found in UK waters.” James Wright, curator of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, told the Guardian. “However, we identified numerous traits that 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.
“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.”
Crocodile sharks are so named due to their sharp teeth and the fact they often snap when out of the water. Whilst they are not considered dangerous to humans, they have been known to cause damage to underwater equipment, so probably could take your arm off if they fancied it!
Photos by: Ross Spearing