Thresher Shark sighting off Isle of Man

Sighting of a Thresher Shark

By Manx Wildlife Trust

08 September 2011

A warden on the Calf of Man recently had a spectacular sighting of a thresher shark, leaping fully out of the water. Simon Davies was doing a watch for sea birds on the north of the Calf, when he spotted a huge splash through his telescope. Focussing on the area, a few seconds later the animal leapt out of the water again, giving Simon a perfect view of it. He immediately noticed the extremely long upper lobe of the tail, which can be as long as the rest of the whole body & gives the ‘thresher’ shark its name. The shark was about three metres long and together with the distinctive tail, broad snout and long pectoral fins, identified it as a thresher shark.

Thresher sharks are rare in the Irish Sea, tending to be found much further offshore. In fact there are only a couple of records of them ever being seen in Manx waters, one of which dates all the way back to 1898. A hunt through the digital newspaper archive at Manx National Heritage’s iMuseum has found reference to a collection made for Noble’s hospital from people viewing a thresher shark caught off Douglas in 1922! The archive also has a record from 1927, but it is unclear whether this was in the Isle of Man or not. Nevertheless, this is clearly a very rare and exciting sighting. Thresher shark populations in the Northeast Atlantic are classed as ‘near threatened’ so every record of them is valuable.



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