TV historian calls for the return of the head of a rare shark that washed up on Britain’s beaches
TV historian Dan Snow is leading calls for the return of the head and tail of an “extraordinarily rare” shark found dead on a New Forest beach.
The body of the shark, believed to be a small-toothed sand tiger, was found by walkers on Lepe Beach near Southampton on Saturday and was seen by the broadcaster.
But Mr Snow said before the body could be recovered for biologists to examine, the head and tail were removed.
He has joined calls for the remains to be returned for expert examination.
He posted on Twitter: “We went last night to secure the shark for science. But we were too late! Please please- the leader has to get in touch with you. The scientists want to look at it and then you get to keep it.
“Friends of biologists like @Ben_garrod identified it as an exceptionally rare visitor to these shores and asked me to secure it. The head, tail and fin have been snatched before I assemble a team big enough to tow from the beach to the nearest street.
“It’s not illegal to take parts of dead fish that wash ashore so there’s no judging, but if you’ve taken the head please get in touch, let the scientists take a look and then they can.” you keep him.”
A spokesman for The Shark Trust said the discovery was an “exciting” find.
He said: “Although he has not been able to examine the shark firsthand, several photos have been circulated and Shark Trust staff and colleagues have identified the shark as a sand tiger (Odontaspis ferox).
“Despite their global distribution, sand tigers are rarely encountered and are considered naturally rare.
“In the NE Atlantic, their range extends to the French coast at the tip of the Bay of Biscay, making this report an exceptional one.
“As a large shark – which can grow to 4m in length – sand tigers with small teeth feed on small fish and squid, putting their long, slender teeth to good use. Usually found towards the bottom of the sea, this is a globally endangered species and is believed to be on the decline.
“As small-toothed sand tigers are likely to be exceptionally rare visitors north of Biscay, this report is exciting.
“And while efforts were made to secure the specimen for research purposes, recent images show the shark was slaughtered overnight with its head and tail removed.”
“The head in particular is key to deciphering intricate details of the shark’s life, even before birth, so we’d love to hear any updates on its whereabouts.”
“Sighting records like these shape our knowledge of species distribution. This sighting may have been a vagrant, but keeping records of occasional finds can create new patterns that make all records important.”