We’ve all felt a little fishy after watching Jaws, but at least it’s safe to get back in British waters… right?
This week, sunseekers in Bournemouth, Dorset, were told otherwise, as Boscombe beach was evacuated over sightings of a ‘large shark’ circling yards from the shore.
RNLI lifeguards put up red flags and sent out a tannoy announcement telling people to get out of the sea due to “large marine wildlife” in the water.
The beach remained closed for almost an hour as lifeguards searched the sea on jet-skis looking for the ominous sign of a dorsal fin protruding from the water.
While shark attacks are incredibly rare in Britain, with no unprovoked attacks said to have occurred since records began in 1847, over the years a few unlucky chaps have found themselves in too deep.
‘The Beast’ punctures boat and gnaws man’s foot
This 8ft shark bit off more than it could chew when it came up against fisherman Hamish Currie.
The 52-year-old skipper struggled for two hours to land the 300lb monster, which his crewmates dubbed “The Beast”, off Islay in the Inner Hebrides in 2011.
Hamish had to call on every one of his 45 years of experience as a fisherman as the dangerous porbeagle shark rammed his 30ft rigid inflatable boat, sunk its teeth into the port side and bit into one of his crewmates’ boots.
“When she started ramming I knew she was a real bad fish, a wicked girl,” Hamish said. “She took two bites and punctured the boat. I think she lost a couple of teeth when she took those chunks.
“I’ve landed loads of sharks over the years but she was by far the worst. They can be aggressive but she was really, really angry. She was unbelievable.”
Porbeagles – which are closely related to the Great Whites featured in Hollywood thriller Jaws – have been known to attack humans, although it is rare. Three non-fatal attacks were recorded in 2009.
Hamish had set sail from Cushendall in Northern Ireland with the four-man crew of The Predator.
They crossed the Irish Sea and hooked the shark off the Scottish coast at Portnahaven in the Hebrides. And their struggles didn’t end once they had hauled the shark on to the boat.
“When we landed her she took a bite of one of the guys’ boots,” said Hamish, who is from Saltcoats, Ayrshire, but is based in Northern Ireland.
“She left a couple of teeth in it. He couldn’t believe it. He came off the boat and was left picking teeth out!”
Hamish, who runs shark-fishing trips, said: “My main worry is always my passengers on board and their safety.
“You can easily lose an arm or a leg to them. They’d snap it off no bother and when you are 40 miles away from home you could bleed to death. Bringing her in was my hairiest experience.”
Once the crew had landed the deadly shark on deck Hamish knew it was vital to calm her down.
“I put a towel over her eyes and it settled her a bit,” he said. “She didn’t come to any harm. We had her on the boat for no more than five minutes before we threw her back.
“I was totally shattered after it all. Thankfully we got back home and got the boat patched up.”
Hamish’s crew-mate Brian Menary, who initially hooked the shark, said: “It was unbelievable. She scared the bejesus out of me.
“Pulling her in nearly killed me, it was some struggle. Thank goodness I’m 6ft and 20 stone because if I was 5ft 8in and nine stone I would have been overboard and away swimming.”
Fisherman bitten ‘down to the muscle’
Fisherman Max Berryman was rushed to hospital with deep bites “down to the muscle” after being mauled by a shark off the coast of Cornwall.
The 21-year-old was bitten on the leg by a porbeagle after hauling it on to his boat, which operates from Newlyn, with a fishing net in 2018.
Dramatic footage showed the coastguard racing to airlift him from the boat after sterilising and dressing the leg wound.
After he was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital, his family, based in Penzance, revealed he had to undergo an operation.
Grandmother-in-law Valerie Richards said: “He had his operation last night. I saw the photos of his leg, it looked terrible.”
Alex Greig, of Falmouth coastguards, said Max suffered five deep wounds that were cut down as far as the muscle.
“The telephone call came from the fishing vessel to say they had a crewman on board that had been bitten by a shark that they had brought up on deck that was caught in their nets,” he said.
“He was able to describe to me the treatment he had given to the crewman which was clean out the wounds, disinfect them and he had managed to seal them up with superglue and tape.
“There were about four to five cuts altogether, one of which was extending nearly 10 inches in length along the side of his knee and they were cut down as far as the muscle.
“The shark had been caught in nets that the fishing vessel was hauling back on board and unfortunately it was dragged up on deck and obviously wasn’t very happy with that so attacked whatever was nearby.”
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