Are Great White sharks reaching British shores?AFP


One of Britain's leading conservationists believes that there have been at least ten "credible" sightings of Great Whites in British waters in the last 18 years.

The Daily Express reports that leading shark conservationist Richard Peirce has assessed nearly 100 reports of Great Whites - including a number of reports from July 1999 in a stretch of water 12 miles off north Cornwall, witnessed by eight people.

Then, in July 2005, four sea anglers reported a Great White alongside their boat as they fished in the Outer Hebrides. Six years later, another witness described the same shark in the same area.

Mr Peirce writes in BBC Wildlife Magazine: "There has been much speculation about the possible reasons for this, and one theory is that it may be due to the warming of British seas, which has led to changed in the movements of shark prey and thus shark behaviour."

He adds: "I believe that there's a more straightforward explanation for the increase in reported shark encounters: it simply reflects the fact that we are spending more time at sea."

Earlier this year, a part-fossilised Great White shark's tooth was found embedded in a crab pot off the port of Gairloch in Western Scotland.

The Daily Mail reported that, according to Mr Peirce, this is the first conclusive evidence so far that Great Whites were once found in the seas around the British Isles. He also explained that the most credible sightings have been found in Cornwall and northern Scotland.

The full feature by Richard Peirce is published in the December issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine, on sale now.

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