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Fisherman's boat rammed by man-eating shark off coastline

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 13, 2011

An oceanic whitetip shark like the one believed to have been seen by fishermen off the North Cornwall coast, who described the creature circling their boats as ‘aggressive’

An oceanic whitetip shark like the one believed to have been seen by fishermen off the North Cornwall coast, who described the creature circling their boats as ‘aggressive’

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A man-eating shark is feared to be prowling the waters off West Cornwall after two separate sightings of the predator considered the most dangerous of its species.

The vicious shark, believed to be an oceanic whitetip, was spotted by the occupants of two mackerel fishing boats a mile off the holiday hotspot of St Ives.

Experts have conceded the description tallies with oceanic whitetips and are investigating the claim. If confirmed, it would mark the first time the creature – responsible for more human deaths than all other shark species combined – had strayed into British waters.

One of the fisherman told the Western Morning News how the shark rammed his wooden fishing boat.

The 60-year-old, who has been fishing in St Ives Bay all his life, said it was a clear, calm morning when his attention was caught by the unusual and distinctive mottled white tipped dorsal fin zig-zagging towards him.

“I was interested so I stood up to have a good look at it. As I was looking over the side of the boat, it just slammed into it. Then its head came out of the water by about a foot.

“It was that close to the boat that it slammed the side of the boat with its body and tail.

“It came as a bit of a shock. It was aggressive and we don’t tend to have aggressive sharks in these waters.”

The fisherman, who has asked not to be named, said he was clearly able to identify the 6-7ft-long shark and knew it was not a harmless porbeagle, which frequently follow mackerel boats.

“I have been fishing in these waters all my life and I have seen all sorts, but I have never seen one of those and I have never had a shark ram my boat.

“This was an aggressive shark. I was in a 16ft boat, but if I had been in a kayak it could have easily had a bite at my legs.”

The fisherman fired up his motor and headed over to the nearest boat, a couple of hundred yards away. He told them what had happened, then decided to return to St Ives, where he reported the incident to the harbour master.

About 10 minutes later, the two fisherman on board the second boat were circled by the shark.

One of them said: “We blatantly saw it, the two of us and I am 100 per cent sure it was a oceanic whitetip.”

He described the distinctive white tips of the dorsal and lower pectoral fins.

“The water was crystal clear and we had a perfect view. It was just going round in the water. Its pectoral fins were very long and like wings.

“When we got home and looked it up on the computer, it was exactly what we had seen.

“It was pretty scary when you think about it.”

Richard Peirce, chairman of The Shark Trust, which promotes conservation and study of the creatures, said more work was needed to confirm whether the shark was an oceanic whitetip.

“It is always exciting and interesting to get sighting reports of what may be new species to our waters, but it is impossible to comment constructively in the absence of evidence.

“Elements of the description we have heard are consistent with oceanic whitetips, but to date there are no confirmed reports of oceanics in UK waters, which are outside the temperature range usually tolerated by this species.”

St Ives deputy harbourmaster Ian Kemp confirmed the sighting had been reported to the office. He said an oceanic whitetip shark had never been seen in the waters around Cornwall before, but believed any occurrence would be “a one off, rogue animal”.

Oceanic whitetips, not to be confused with docile reef whitetip sharks, prefer deep, open water and have been seen off the coast of Spain and Portugal. In 2004, a dead oceanic whitetip was washed up on the west coast of Sweden, well beyond its normal range.

It rarely strays into shallower waters, but is a deadly hunter responsible for more fatal attacks on humans than all other shark species combined. It preys on survivors of downed aircraft and shipwrecks and notoriously during the Second World War was blamed for a feeding frenzy which killed more than 800 people from the Nova Scotia, which was sunk by a German U boat off the coast of South Africa.

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  • GRIBBLE666  |  September 28 2011, 10:47AM

    i myself saw a Tiger Shark in cockwood harbour near Starcross mind you i had been on the Cider and Anna's pipe on closer inspection it turned out to be an empty packet of cheese and onion crisps with a dead wasp on top.

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  • Ironictwitter  |  September 28 2011, 10:36AM

    What a load of typical utter scaremongering and balderdash. Not a surprise it comes from the never reliable Western Morning News. (Owned by The Daily Mail!) Shocker! Oceanic White Tips do not and can not breach the surface by a foot, to be honest very few Sharks can. Every year they do this in the summer. Honestly EVERY single year without exception! Front page pictures of Mako's normally. An indigenous and deap-sea shark! Utter twoddle! Please UK stop buying this tat, it is actually hurting our nation. Grow up! Check your facts (something they never do) but you have no excuse.

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  • pimp_pedro  |  September 27 2011, 6:47PM

    Man Eating Shark Rams Boat Was that a man with a shark pate sandwich ramming boats again, I told him last time, John knock that off or Greenpeace will turn up and start scrubbing oily rocks again

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  • David_Sifre  |  June 15 2011, 2:12AM

    Man has killed more man than all sharks combined. Might as well read "endangered species rams boat of murdering man." Bees kill more people than sharks. As do falling coconuts. I recommend watching "Sharkwater" for a wonderful 'Sharkumentary" that helps dispel the myth of shark as man-eater.

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  • David_Sifre  |  June 15 2011, 2:08AM

    Idiotic to say a man eating shark rammed the boat. Stupid fear mongering.

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  • Shepherd123  |  June 14 2011, 7:37AM

    jaysmummy - your probably right about the oceanic white tip of course, I was referring to sharks generally, and possibly misread your comments. Only many people dismiss the possibility of larger more aggressive sharks in our waters and I don't think we should. My worry is that if a specific type of shark did end up in our waters, the various changes in its environment might make it behave quite differently to what we would commonly expect. But another note to consider, as far as I'm aware, the oceanic white tip is one of the few sharks that is known for knocking, or bumping into, objects in the sea (such as divers) - it's form of inspection I guess. All I'm saying is that I wouldn't dismiss anything at the moment - the seas seems to be going through many changes that we clearly don't understand or even comprehend. It doesn't hurt to be aware of the possibility, but I agree, there's probably no need for concern. Dailygrumble.co.uk

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  • jaysmummy  |  June 13 2011, 4:10PM

    Shepherd123 - Why aren't they here?............because our water is far too cold. I have studied sharks for over 15 years and I can assure you that an Oceanic white tip would not be in Cornwall. You are referring to our waters as having a good seal population, can you please explain what relevance this has to Oceanic White Tips? If you are actually referring to the possibility of a Great White being in our waters then yes there is a chance that this could possibly happen as Great White's prefer cooler waters. It was more the fact of the shark being referred to as aggressive and vicious and ramming the boat that I was claiming to be rediculous, not the fact that they wouldn't be here in the first place.

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  • Shepherd123  |  June 13 2011, 2:38PM

    Don't be too quick to judge. Water and feeding habits are changing so we may have larger sharks in our waters than ever before. I've been keeping an eye on sightings over the years and although many are fake, not all are. Don't forget the fact that the West coast of Spain is one of the primary breeding grounds for the Great White and we also have an official Great White sighting off the North coast of the Bay of Biscay. We also have a dead Hammerhead that was washed up on the South coast too. They have the means; we have the water and food source with the best seal population in Europe. It's not a question of 'Are they here?', it's a question of 'Why aren't they? So think on. dailygrumble.co.uk

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  • jaysmummy  |  June 13 2011, 1:46PM

    Ha Ha does this guy think he is in JAWS??? What a load of rubbish, no wonder he wanted to remain annonymous!! An oceanic white tip would NEVER ram a boat, nor would they be found in our waters (unless it suddenly went to above 21 degrees and the shark was extremely lost). There is more chance of the 'great white sighting in Cornwall' being true (although I very much doubt that also). It is a shame too how the article has been written - using words like 'vicious' and 'aggresive'. No shark is vicious or aggressive! I think people should read up before writing nonsense like this as they clearly have no interest or understanding of sharks whatsoever! It is a shame that they are portrayed in this way when they are an endangered species due to fishing and finning.............don't worry swimmers (and fishermen) - soon there will be none left to worry about!!

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  • sharksong  |  June 13 2011, 1:36PM

    Interesting how much fear a shark generates even when viewed from the safety of a boat. For a different take on interaction between oceanic whitetips and people in the water, check out: http://tinyurl.com/65c9eyf (A feeding frenzy that killed 800 shipwreck victims. What irresponsible writing!)

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