Concern after first records of shark species for Britain and Ireland


The unexpected appearance of two dead Smalltooth Sand Tiger Sharks in British and Irish waters has caused concern among shark biologists.

A 4.2-m specimen was found at Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford, on 1 April – a first for Ireland, which came shortly after Britain's first occurrence, which was found at Lepe Beach, Hampshire, in mid-March.

The distinctive snout and teeth help distinguish Smalltooth Sand Tiger Shark from other species (Jenny Bortoluzzi / Kevin Purves).

The records are cause for concern, according to shark biologist Nicholas Payne at Trinity College Dublin, who said: "If there's any worry to be had it's more probably from the shark's perspective because seeing two animals appear so close together both in space and time – given that they are normally not observed in this region – is a little bit concerning from our point of view as shark biologists and conservationists.

"We're hopeful it's not the start of something or that we are going to see more mortalities in this species."

A Swiss tourist emailed Payne after he discovered it while walking on 1 April. "As soon as I saw the photos, I knew we had to get down there urgently," said Dr Payne. The Trinity team, including Jenny Bortoluzzi and Haley Dolton, and accompanied by UCD scientist Kevin Purves, rushed against the incoming tide to see the shark.

"Myself and my team quickly scrambled and drove down to Wexford and we made it just in time as the tide was coming in," he said. "We had to rush to take as many measures and samples of the animal as possible before the tide took it out."