Great White spotted off Cornwall?

Has one of the world’s most dangerous sharks been spotted off the UK coast? That’s the question being asked this week after a video was posted on Facebook showing a large predator off the Cornish coast.

Speculation was soon rife as to what species it was, with many believing it could finally be proof that great whites do visit British waters.

The footage was captured by experienced skipper, Nigel Hodge, aboard his charter vessel Wave Chieftain out of Falmouth.

The 20 second clip was uploaded by Nigel to the Cornish Fishing Facebook group page where he commented: “I was fishing on the starboard side and went to get the deck hose when I noticed it on the port side… The deck is 24ft long and I would guesstimate that the fish was half the length of that with ease. The water was heavily chummed as I had the whole day’s bait to use up in half a day.”

Last August an angler aboard Nigel’s boat was playing a blue shark which was attacked by a much larger shark during the fight. At the time many national newspapers incorrectly reported that a great white was responsible although it was later confirmed to be an oceanic white tipped shark.

On this occasion, however, the country’s leading shark historian, David Turner believes it could well be a great white.

“Sadly the footage doesn’t clearly show any defining features,” said the author of The Shark Fisherman. “It is definitely a lamnidae shark – a porbeagle, mako or great white - but if it was 14ft long then it probably was a great white. This wouldn’t surprise me as I have always thought they visit UK waters.  I was recently talking to Robin Vinnicombe, a top Cornish skipper who boated 15 mako sharks in the 60s, and he said he is now convinced that a 14ft shark hooked by Doug Philips in 1965 was a great white.”

In March this year a tagged great white shark, named Lydia, hit the headlines when she came with 700 miles of the Devon coast before changing direction.

Great White fact file
- A mature great white can grow up to 21ft in length and over 7,300lb in weight.
- They can live for over 70 years.
- A great white can accelerate to speeds exceeding 35 mph.
- They are responsible for by far the largest number of fatal unprovoked attacks on humans.
- Great white sharks live in almost all coastal and offshore water which have water temperatures between 12 and 24 degrees Celsius.

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