Although officials aren’t 100% sure if the sharks spotted by fishermen are oceanic whitetips, an endangered species, the news is very exciting. Richard Pierce from the Shark Trust said “it is always exciting and interesting to get sighting reports of what may be new species to our waters. Elements of the description we have heard are consistent with oceanic whitetips, although to date there have been no confirmed reports of oceanics in UK waters.”
Oceanic whitetips, classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, are normally only found as far north as Portugal, preferring warmer temperate or tropical waters. These sharks are so named because the tips of several of its fins are white or show white mottling. Although considered one of the five most dangerous sharks, there is believed to have been only one oceanic whitetip-related death within the past year anywhere in the world. Like the great white shark, its reputation as an aggressive man-eater has been hugely exaggerated.
Have a look at our video of an oceanic whitetip swimming in its usual habitat – the tropical waters off the coast of Hawaii:
Basking sharks are more usual visitors to the seas around Cornwall. Although very large – they grow up to a whopping eight metres – they are gentle giants, filter-feeding on plankton through their large gills.
We’ll let you know if the oceanic whitetip sightings are confirmed. Follow us on Twitter – @ARKive – or on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/ARKive.org – to keep up to date with all the latest wildlife news.
Ruth Hendry, ARKive Media Researcher