Shark Attacks in British Waters
While there are 29 different types of sharks that live in British waters around the British Isles, it has often been asked "Have there been any shark attacks?".
Going by the published list of worldwide shark attacks brought out by GSAF (the Global Shark Attack File), there have been a few, most of which are better described as 'shark encounters'.
I find it hard to categorize a fisherman suffering an injury from a captured shark fighting for its life as being the same as a someone getting bitten while surfing or swimming, and not bothering the sharks at all.
Sharks that attack people while going about their business are not the same thing, in my opinion.
However, here is the complete listing of all shark attacks that have taken place in UK waters since records began over 100 years ago.
Assuming you have been a victim of a shark attack, what were you doing at the time?
Shark Attacks off the coast of England, UK
1. On the 16th of September 1845, it was reported that a male teacher had his leg severed. No further details are available of whereabouts in England this happened, or the type of shark involved.
2. In 1876, a male (no age or name reported) suffered a graze on his leg after been brushed by "either a porbeagle or a blue shark". This happened in the English Channel between Hastings and Fairlight, Sussex.
3. On the 6th of October 1907, a male known only as 'J. Wolffe' was "struck across the loins" by what witnesses described as being a bottlenose dolphin, while swimming in the English Channel. Quite how this made it onto the shark attacks file is anyone's guess, as a dolphin is not a shark! He suffered no injury.
4. In September, 1921, a man by the name of Roberts was fishing off Weymouth in Dorset, when he was bitten on the leg by a 4' long blue shark that he was attempting to capture. Serves him right!
5. On the 14th of July, 1924, two fishermen had their arms broken by a 12' shark they had accidentally hooked while fishing for mackerel. This also happened off Weymouth in Dorset.
6. On the 3rd of September, 1925, a Mr S. Page was fishing off Shanklin on the Isle of Wight, when a shark rammed his boat and lifted it right out of the water. He suffered no injuries.
7. In October, 1954, a deckhand on a fishing trawler had his arm broken when it was caught by the swishing tail of the 20ft long shark that had been caught in their nets.
8. *FATAL* - In 1956, off The Lizard in Cornwall, a Leslie Nye and Richard Kirby were attempting to blow up a shark with explosives and blew themselves up instead. Not sure this should even be listed as a shark attack!
9. On the 4th of August, 1960, 25 year old William Capel was helping an angler to land an 80lb shark, in the English Channel off Devon, and suffered lacerations on his arm extending from elbow to wrist, presumably when the shark turned and bit him, as they do when they have a hook sticking out of them and are in obvious pain.
10. In June, 1968, a man by the name of Roy Cloke suffered a severely lacerated arm trying to land a blue shark.
11. On the 27th of July, 1969, an Eric Brown also suffered from arm lacerations while shark fishing. There are no details of where in England this happened, nor the type of shark involved.
12. On the 9th of January, 1970, an unnamed fisherman had his leg bitten by an injured 8' blue shark while trying to return it to the sea. This happened off the coast of Teignmouth in Devon.
14. On the 15th of June, 1981, two fishermen had a lucky escape off the coast of the Isle of Wight when a 13' thresher shark leapt aboard their boat. They suffered from minor injuries in the scuffle.
15. On the 14th of February, 2000, at the Fountain Pub in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, a chef by the name of Paul Smith was feeding prawns to the captive sharks kept in an aquarium when they bit his fingers. A 60cm (2ft) blacktip shark and two 60cm bamboo catsharks were later apprehended by police and charged with assault.
16. On the 13th of September, 2001 (was it a Friday, I wonder?) a diver at the Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, had his head bitten by a 12ft sand tiger shark.
17. On the 6th of August, 2002, at the Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, 30 year old Robert Bennett had his hand bitten while diving, by a captive 3m (10ft) sand tiger shark. You would think they would learn!
18. On the 17th of May, 2007, 38 year old Phil Tanner was fishing off Folkstone in Kent, when he suffered a nose bite from his hooked shark, a 2ft lesser spotted dogfish.
19. In July, 2008, off the coast of Sussex, two 16 year old boys, Luke Jones and James Sequin, had a surprise visitor to the inflatable dinghy they were rowing at the time, when a 3ft long starry smoothhound shark leapt into their boat. Luckily neither boy was injured.
20. On the 30th of August, 2008, 52 year old Steven Perkins was fishing off Lundy island in North Devon, when he suffered a bite on the wrist by the blue shark he had caught and landed.
21. On the 2nd of October, 2009, a 39 year old male was fishing off Mewstone Rock in Devon when the spurdog shark he had captured managed to twist its body and pierce his forearm with its poisonous spine.
Shark Attacks off coast of Scotland, UK
22. *FATAL* - On the 1st of September, 1937, there was a triple fatality in the Kilbrannan Sound off Carradale on the Kintyre peninsula when a basking shark capsized a boat containing three people - named as Captain Angus Brown and his son and brother.
23. Just 10 days later on the 11th of September, 1937, a basking shark attacked a fishing boat, causing damage to its propeller. This incident happened off the Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde, very close to the Carradale attack.
24. To top it off, the very next day on the 12th of September, 1937, the Clyde steamer the Glen Sannox was attacked by a basking shark and two 5ft observation windows were broken. Again this happened in the same general area, just off the Isle of Arran.
When Good Sharks Go Bad
The basking shark is the world's second biggest shark, can reach a massive 40ft in length. Generally considered to be docile, they are harmless plankton eaters that wouldn't even hurt a fish, never mind a human. Yet in 1937, three sea crafts were attacked by one in the same sea area, and three men lost their lives.
25. On the 27th of June, 1960, 18 year old Hans Yoachim Schapper was taken to hospital in Wick in the north of Scotland after his arm had been bitten by a small shark trapped in the nets of the German fishing vessel he worked on.
26. On the 2nd of June, 2008, a basking shark struck a fishing boat in Balintore Bay, Easter Ross. The two occupants were uninjured.
27. On the 17th of October, 2009, at Deep Sea World Aquarium, Fife, a diver suffered from 15 - 20 puncture wounds to his arm when he was bitten by a captive angel shark.
28. On 28th of October, 2011, surfer Andrew Rollo got the fright of his life when his board was bumped by an 8' - 10' shark in Spey Bay, Moray.
29. At the end of August, 2012, fisherman Hamish Currie targeted a porbeagle shark that had been reportedly eating seals off Islay in the Inner Hebrides. He caught the 7ft specimen and after a struggle hauled it aboard. On the deck, the normally timid porbeagle lashed out and bit a hole in his steel toe-capped boots, as well as taking a bite out of the boat itself. Mr Currie told newspapers he had intended to tag the shark. Right.
Sharks in British seas video trailer
The book by British shark expert Richard Peirce
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