A beach has been turned into a crime scene after an ‘rare’ 6ft shark washed up dead before being beheaded.
There had been several sightings of the animal in the Solent, with the first one on Friday afternoon.
Alisha Openshaw was on the beach at Lepe in Hampshire when she spotted what marine biologists have now been identified is a smalltooth sand tiger shark.
The mum-of-two thought it had been there for a ‘good two hours’, but despite a group of people watching, no one had helped.
After finding the animal struggling, she jumped in, pulling it by its tail into deeper water before watching it swim away in the direction of the Isle of Wight.
But despite her best efforts, the body of the shark was discovered on Lepe beach the following morning.
Historian Dan Snow was enlisted to secure and examine the shark, but before he got there, the head, tail and fin had been cut off and taken.
He said: ‘It will be a local fisherman or someone – I mean, who would not want a shark head?
There is no law against it, but please come forward so it can be examined for science.’
Reports of the stranded shark were received by the Shark Trust on Friday.
Alisha, who was one of the people who spotted the animal on the beach, said: ‘I was heading to the beach for a walk, my mum was already there, so I got took the kids for a nice walk.
‘There were a couple of people down there, and they saw the shark splashing. He was splashing around the water around the start, and I got worried that nobody was going to help him.
‘At first I wasn’t sure what it could be, but once I got there I could definitely see it was a shark.
‘I don’t want any animal to suffer, I can’t even kill a fly myself, and I know I just wanted to save him.’
This is believed to be the first time the species, which is classified as vulnerable and rarely spotted, has been found in British waters.
The deepwater shark, which can grow to 12ft in length and weigh up to 637lbs, is known to be non-aggressive towards humans.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are fewer than 250 adult sand tiger sharks left.
It normally frequents warmer waters, so it is not clear how and why it ended up at Lepe.
Alisha added: ‘It was quite big, you kind of just think about it later, only afterwards do you think, ‘Oh I actually rescued a shark’.
‘We must have been in the water for about an hour.’
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