Great white sharks ‘more than likely’ in British waters after ‘sightings’ off UK coast

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Over recent years, anglers have claimed to spot the terrifying sharks off the coast of Devon and Cornwall. And academics have said there is “no reason” why they could not be swimming in British waters today.

One Devon fisherman said while he has not seen one himself, he claims his friends have.

National Geographic explorer Professor Yannis Papastamatiou, who works at Florida International University, said hotpots for species of shark are Cornwall, Ireland and the coast of Scotland.

He told The Sun: “Britain is arguably the best place in the world to see a basking shark and porbeagles are quite common in the UK.

“Fishers do occasionally catch them.

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“They’re a close relation of the white shark.

“They are probably the species most frequently misidentified as a white shark, which is an understandable mistake.”

Back in 1977, the closest confirmed report of a great white was a female was captured in the Bay of Biscay, 168 miles off Land’s End.

But Professor Papastamatiou said there is no reason why they could not come to British waters.

He continued: “There’s no reason why they couldn’t come here.

“They are often found in areas where the water is just as cold as it is here.

“We know they’re in the Mediterranean.”

Richard Peirce, former chair of the Shark Trust, said around 10 percent of claimed encounters with great whites were “credible”.

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Dr Ken Collins, of the University of Southampton, added: “You get great whites off the coast of South Africa where the water is colder than here and I see no reason why we should not have them in our waters.

“There are great whites in the Med, which is not too far away and so I see no reason why they should not be spotted here, particularly off the coast of Cornwall where there is an abundant supple of seals, their favourite food.”

While it could be worrying if great whites are in British waters, shark attacks and deaths are incredibly rare around the world.

In 2019, there were 64 unprovoked attacks and 41 provoked attacks.

Only two of those unprovoked attacks resulted in a fatality according to the annual report by the International Shark Attack File.

According to the report, it states the highest number of unprovoked attacks took place in the US, but none were fatal.

The report said: “The total number of unprovoked shark attacks worldwide is extremely low, given the number of people participating in aquatic recreation each year.

“Fatality rates have declined for decades, reflecting advances in beach safety, medical treatment, and public awareness.

“This underscores the importance of global efforts to improve ocean rescue, medical care and shark education.”

Last year, Australia recorded more shark attack deaths than it saw for more than 90 years after a surfer was killed.

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