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Great White Sharks seen prowling South Devon coast, trawlermen say

Fisherman claim to have spotted Great White sharks off the coast of Britain.     

Ashley Lane, who runs Ashley’s Fishing Trips from Paignton in South Devon, says trawlermen have reported seeing the sea predators in UK waters in the South West.  

He says while shark numbers in general appear to be down – there have been sightings of the most infamous species.

It follows news that warmer sea temperatures could attract new species – including hammerhead sharks – from the Mediterranean and African waters.

Mr Lane said: ‘Great White Sharks are there now, I’m sure of it. I’ve not seen one myself but I do speak to a lot of fisherman who say they have.

‘I think species like this swimming off the Devon coast would be a great thing and definitely good for my trade – people would love to see that sort of thing,’ the fishing trip operator said.

‘However, you are then bating wildlife which interferes with the ecosystem – they are not pets and shouldn’t be treated as such.’

He added: ‘It’s been a very quiet year for sightings. We’ve had no sharks or whales, and there have been loads over the past two years.

‘There are very few mackerel and cuttlefish out in the bay either – and any dolphin sightings seem to have been further out to sea outside the bay.’

Mr Lane said he doubted it was down to sea temperature for one very good reason.

He said: ‘The sea must be warm because we are inundated with jellyfish. We saw a large barrel jellyfish yesterday and lots of smaller moon jellyfish too.

‘I think it’s to do with the mackerel, as soon as they come into the bay the larger animals will follow. It’s like a chain reaction but it’s obviously been delayed this year.’

Dr Ken Collins, from the University of Southampton, said: ‘It’s likely we will be seeing more sharks spread from warmer regions such as the Mediterranean Sea towards our waters in the UK over the next 30 years.’

Such species the former administrator of the UK shark tagging programme noted included blacktops, sand tigers and hammerheads, currently found off the coasts of Spain and Portugal.

But added: ‘While the potential number of shark species around the UK may increase in the next few decades, the overall number of sharks, especially the larger ones, will fall as a result of over-fishing, plastic waste and climate change.

‘It’s really important we work together to prevent a premature extinction of these wonderful creatures.’

He also said he saw ‘no reason’ why there should not be Great White sharks in UK waters, as they were found in colder waters off South Africa and favoured seals – found in Cornwall – to eat.

However Dr Collins added that the numbers of Great Whites are in decline worldwide so the chances of seeing them in the UK falls each year. 

Back in April fisherman Ross Needs and Dan Hawkins caught an eight-foot long porbeagle shark, a relation of the Great White, off the coast of Cornwall.

After the epic two-hour battle with the female shark, that weighed a whopping 500Ibs, she was released back into the ocean.

Earlier in May, drone footage captured a 23ft (7m) basking shark feeding in Keem Bay, Achill Island, in Ireland.

The creature was seen in the Bay every day just metres from the shoreline.

The bay was once home to the largest basking shark fishery in the world, and at its peak, up to 50 sharks were caught a day, before the trade ended in the 1980s. 

Basking sharks are now considered a vulnerable species by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). 

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