Lurking porbeagle’s companion a grey seal sleeper
Saturday 15th September 2012, 10:00AM BST.
A VISITING angler has reported a sighting of a 6ft shark off the breakwater.
He was fishing for black bream on Tuesday morning, he said, when he spotted the dorsal and pectoral fins of a porbeagle shark 12ft away from him.
‘There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that’s what it was,’ said the angler, who asked not to be named. ‘I saw its dorsal fin, pectoral fins sticking out at either side and its tail fin moving from side to side, swimming with the tide, going towards Burhou. I could see his body under the water. It wasn’t a basking shark; basking sharks are a brownish colour and this was grey-ish. I’m a diver and used to live on Lundy Island off Bristol, where we got a lot of basking sharks, so I do know what to look for.’
Mark Harding of Alderney Angling said he had received reports from anglers that there were some porbeagles around. ‘When you go out wrecking you see them often enough.’
Grey on top and white underneath, the porbeagle is a species of mackerel shark found in the cold and temperate waters of the North Atlantic. Although a member of the Great White family, the porbeagle is not thought to be a threat to humans and is usually very shy. It preys mainly on bony fish and usually reaches about 8ft in length. It is prized as a game fish by recreational anglers and its meat and fins are highly valued. Commercial fishing of the endangered porbeagle was banned two years ago.
Fisherman Dave Gillingham used to catch them, but says that apart from when he had them on the end of a line they were very elusive.
He spotted one a couple of weeks ago about half a mile north of the breakwater, when it came and took a mackerel from the end of his fishing rod.
‘There are certainly a few lurking about around a mile off the breakwater,’ he said. ‘This one was around 100kg – about five feet long – and there was no doubt at all it was a porbeagle, I’ve seen plenty of them. It took the mackerel off my fishing hook and took the mackerel feathers of the hook of my brother’s lad. In 25 years of fishing I’ve never known them to come up and take mackerel or be interested in what we were doing.’
Alderney Wildlife Trust investigated reports of a shark spotted in Crabby Bay. Marine ecologist Juan Salado, pictured, said that sighting was definitely a grey seal, above, one that had reportedly been hanging around the Braye area for several weeks.
‘I went down to Crabby Bay two weeks ago and saw a male grey seal, quite close into the shore, having a nap,’ he said. ‘They sleep vertically, holding their noses out of the water, and they can sometimes be mistaken for a shark’s fin,’ he said. ‘But if anyone has any information on shark reports please report it to Alderney Wildlife Trust so we can go and do a closer inspection.’
A porbeagle weighing 250kg was caught by anglers off the coast at Boscastle, Cornwall, in May.