19th March

Reports of a stranded shark were received by the Shark Trust yesterday afternoon. Sighted close to shore earlier in the day, the shark washed-up on Lepe Beach, on the shores of the Solent, Hampshire, on Saturday 18th March.

Although not able to examine the shark first-hand, several photographs have been circulated, and Shark Trust staff and colleagues identified the shark as a Smalltooth Sandtiger (Odontaspis ferox).

Despite their circumglobal distribution, Smalltooth Sandtigers are seldom encountered and considered naturally rare.  In the Northeast Atlantic their range reaches to the French coast at the top of the Bay of Biscay. Making this report an exceptional one.

A large shark – growing to ~4m in length – Smalltooth Sandtigers feed on small fish and squid, putting their long, slender teeth to good use. Usually found towards the seabed, this is a globally Vulnerable species, with numbers thought to be in decline.

With Smalltooth Sandtigers likely exceptionally rare visitors north of Biscay, this report is an exciting one. And while efforts were made to secure the specimen for research, recent images show that the shark was butchered overnight with the head and tail removed. The head in particular holds the key to unlocking intricate details of the sharks life, even from before birth, so we’d welcome news of its whereabouts!   

Sighting records like this help shape our knowledge of species distributions. This sighting may have been a vagrant, but by maintaining records of occasional finds new patterns may start to emerge – making all records important.

To report sightings of sharks, skates and rays visit the Shark Log , or download the App for all your reporting needs in one place.

Banner Image: © Sabrina Belloni