A rare six-foot-long little sand tiger shark has washed up on a popular British beach – hours after being rescued by a ‘brave’ mother, it was claimed.
The shark, found on Lepe Beach in Hampshire’s New Forest, is believed to be the first of its kind to be found in British waters.
Alisha Openshaw, a mother of two, said she thought she had saved the big shark when she encountered it in the shallows of her local beach on Friday and dragged it into deeper water.
Although the 38-year-old saw it swim away, the shark has now been found dead on the shore.
It was identified as a smalltooth sand tiger shark, a species classified as vulnerable and rarely seen.
A rare six-foot-long little sand tiger shark has washed up on a popular British beach – hours after being rescued by a ‘brave’ mother
The shark, found on Lepe Beach in Hampshire’s New Forest, is believed to be the first of its kind to be found in British waters
Efforts are now underway to recover the shark from Lepe Beach in Hampshire’s New Forest (pictured) for further examination and autopsy. [File image]
The deepwater shark is known to be non-aggressive towards humans, but normally prefers warmer waters to the UK’s chilly coast.
The strictly protected species can grow up to 3 meters in length and weigh up to 289 kg.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are likely fewer than 250 mature sand tiger sharks left.
Efforts are now underway to recover the shark from Lepe Beach in Hampshire’s New Forest for further examination and autopsy.
On Friday afternoon Ms Openshaw was on the beach with her children when she saw the creature on the beach who she thought had been there for ‘over two hours’ but despite a group of people watching no one had helped it.
So the barber himself jumped in, pulled it into deeper water and watched it swim away.
Mrs Openshaw, from Dibden Purlieu, Hants, said: ‘I was on my way to the beach for a walk, my mum was already there so I took the kids for a nice walk.
“There were a few people down there and they saw the shark splash. He was splashing around the water around the start and I was worried no one would help him.
“I wasn’t sure what it could be at first, but once I got there I could definitely tell it was a shark. It must have been there for over two hours, and I just can’t believe no one tried to help him.
Lepe Beach, where the rare shark was found, is in Hampshire’s New Forest
Alisha Openshaw, a mother of two, thought she had saved the big shark when she encountered it in the shallows of her local beach and dragged it into deeper water on Friday
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are likely fewer than 250 mature sand tiger sharks left
“I don’t want an animal to suffer, I can’t even kill a fly myself, and I know I just wanted to save it.”
Then the mother pulled the animal off its tail into deeper water to make sure it was safe and able to swim.
Then the shark swam away towards the Isle of Wight.
The mother said, “It was pretty big, you just think about it later, it’s only afterwards that you think, ‘Oh, I actually saved a shark’.” We must have been in the water for about an hour.’
But despite her best efforts, the shark washed up the next day.
She posted on Facebook, “Just your standard Friday afternoon down the beach! We thought the shark had survived, but I think it was found this morning.”
Locals took to social media to vent their theories.
Vix Hales said, “I wonder why he was so off course? Maybe come with warmer currents. Poor thing.’
Graham Maggs commented: ‘It seems strange as we don’t seem to be getting the bigger sharks into the Solent, smooth dogs and maybe tope, but the porbeagles, threshers and makos seem to be left behind on the island.’
Others congratulated the mother on her efforts, saying “so sad, thank you for trying to save it,” while one person joked “don’t think she’ll swim with Lepe anymore.”