We’ve all felt a little fishy after watching Jaws, but at least it’s safe to get back in British waters… right?
This week, sunseekers in Bournemouth, Dorset, were told otherwise, as Boscombe beach was evacuated over sightings of a ‘large shark’ circling yards from the shore.
RNLI lifeguards put up red flags and sent out a tannoy announcement telling people to get out of the sea due to “large marine wildlife” in the water.
The beach remained closed for almost an hour as lifeguards searched the sea on jet-skis looking for the ominous sign of a dorsal fin protruding from the water.
While shark attacks are incredibly rare in Britain, with no unprovoked attacks said to have occurred since records began in 1847, over the years a few unlucky chaps have found themselves in too deep.
This 8ft shark bit off more than it could chew when it came up against fisherman Hamish Currie.
The 52-year-old skipper struggled for two hours to land the 300lb monster, which his crewmates dubbed “The Beast”, off Islay in the Inner Hebrides in 2011.
Hamish had to call on every one of his 45 years of experience as a fisherman as the dangerous porbeagle shark rammed his 30ft rigid inflatable boat, sunk its teeth into the port side and bit into one of his crewmates’ boots.
“When she started ramming I knew she was a real bad fish, a wicked girl,” Hamish said. “She took two bites and punctured the boat. I think she lost a couple of teeth when she took those chunks.
“I’ve landed loads of sharks over the years but she was by far the worst. They can be aggressive but she was really, really angry. She was unbelievable.”
Porbeagles – which are closely related to the Great Whites featured in Hollywood thriller Jaws – have been known to attack humans, although it is rare. Three non-fatal attacks were recorded in 2009.
Hamish had set sail from Cushendall in Northern Ireland with the four-man crew of The Predator.
They crossed the Irish Sea and hooked the shark off the Scottish coast at Portnahaven in the Hebrides. And their struggles didn’t end once they had hauled the shark on to the boat.
“When we landed her she took a bite of one of the guys’ boots,” said Hamish, who is from Saltcoats, Ayrshire, but is based in Northern Ireland.
“She left a couple of teeth in it. He couldn’t believe it. He came off the boat and was left picking teeth out!”
Hamish, who runs shark-fishing trips, said: “My main worry is always my passengers on board and their safety.
“You can easily lose an arm or a leg to them. They’d snap it off no bother and when you are 40 miles away from home you could bleed to death. Bringing her in was my hairiest experience.”
Once the crew had landed the deadly shark on deck Hamish knew it was vital to calm her down.
“I put a towel over her eyes and it settled her a bit,” he said. “She didn’t come to any harm. We had her on the boat for no more than five minutes before we threw her back.
“I was totally shattered after it all. Thankfully we got back home and got the boat patched up.”
Hamish’s crew-mate Brian Menary, who initially hooked the shark, said: “It was unbelievable. She scared the bejesus out of me.
“Pulling her in nearly killed me, it was some struggle. Thank goodness I’m 6ft and 20 stone because if I was 5ft 8in and nine stone I would have been overboard and away swimming.”
Fisherman Max Berryman was rushed to hospital with deep bites “down to the muscle” after being mauled by a shark off the coast of Cornwall.
The 21-year-old was bitten on the leg by a porbeagle after hauling it on to his boat, which operates from Newlyn, with a fishing net in 2018.
Dramatic footage showed the coastguard racing to airlift him from the boat after sterilising and dressing the leg wound.
After he was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital, his family, based in Penzance, revealed he had to undergo an operation.
Grandmother-in-law Valerie Richards said: “He had his operation last night. I saw the photos of his leg, it looked terrible.”
Alex Greig, of Falmouth coastguards, said Max suffered five deep wounds that were cut down as far as the muscle.
“The telephone call came from the fishing vessel to say they had a crewman on board that had been bitten by a shark that they had brought up on deck that was caught in their nets,” he said.
“He was able to describe to me the treatment he had given to the crewman which was clean out the wounds, disinfect them and he had managed to seal them up with superglue and tape.
“There were about four to five cuts altogether, one of which was extending nearly 10 inches in length along the side of his knee and they were cut down as far as the muscle.
“The shark had been caught in nets that the fishing vessel was hauling back on board and unfortunately it was dragged up on deck and obviously wasn’t very happy with that so attacked whatever was nearby.”
Teacher Rich Thomson said his wife didn’t believe him when he returned home claiming he had got into a tussle with a small shark.
The 30-year-old had been surfing off the coast of Bantham beach, south Devon, when he came across what he believed to be a smooth hound in 2017.
After the 3ft fish “grabbed me on the leg”, he whacked it on the head, leaving him with a bruised leg and cuts to his hands.
“I had a quite a sizeable bruise about three inches across,” he said, adding that his thick wetsuit may have prevented further injury.
“I went home and told my wife I was late because I had been bitten by a shark.
“She said ‘I’ve heard that one before’, but it was true.”
“It won’t stop me going back in the water and it shouldn’t stop anyone, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Stephen Perkins had to undergo reconstructive surgery after becoming the first person to be bitten by a blue shark in the UK.
The fisherman, 52, had hauled the beast into his boat off the coast of Devon in 2008 to get a picture when it plunged its teeth into his forearm.
The deep punctures left Stephen rapidly losing blood and a helicopter was scrambled to rush him to hospital.
“We don’t harm the sharks when we hook them,” Stephen said afterwards.
“We just take a picture and put them back in the water but the one I got was pretty lively and having put his jaw around my wrist then let go.
“The scariest bit, to be honest, was going up in a helicopter.”
“It won’t put me off fishing again but I will remember to pick the shark up by the blunt end in future.”
A spokeswoman for Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital said: ‘A 52-year-old man was treated for crush and ripping injuries caused by a shark on Saturday.
‘There was no muscle or bone damage. He has been told by doctors he will need future treatment in the form of physiotherapy.’
Phil Tanner was fishing off the coast of Folkstone in Kent when he came face to face with a shark in something like a scene from Jaws.
The 38-year-old thought he had netted a 2-foot lesser spotted dogfish – known to chip shop patrons as Rock Salmon.
Phil called out to his fishing companion Scott Allen. “Hey mate, look at this whopper.”
As Scott tuned to look, he accidentally jogged Phil’s arm and the fish, jaws agape, collided with Phil’s nose.
Phil explained: “It clamped around my nostrils and wouldn’t let go. It was agony and I was screaming. The fish didn’t just hang on, either. I could feel it chomping its teeth as if it wanted me for its last meal.
“Everyone on the pier was watching me jumping up and down with a shark hanging off my nose. People were singing the Jaws theme tune — I’ve never felt so embarrassed.”
It was a full five minutes before Phil managed to pull the shark from his nose in 2007 and was left with a ‘shark bite’ scar on the tip of his nose.
He said: “It may look pathetic, but my nose bled for hours. There are now a string of teeth marks all around my nostrils — like one of those pictures you see of shark-attack survivors.”
In 1956 two men were killed after an encounter with a shark off The Lizard in Cornwall.
But it wasn’t quite the classic shark attack you might imagine.
Richard Kirby and Leslie Nye were both civilian able seamen with the Admiralty Yard Craft Service, and providing support for divers operating from HMS Burleigh.
After a sizeable shark was spotted near the ship, Diving officer Lt Commander Brooks led an expedition in a small motor boat to scare the shark away.
The plan was to throw boxes of TNT overboard near the predator, in the hope that the explosions would drive it away.
Unfortunately the boxes of explosive were thrown a little too close to the shark. A rope binding two of the boxes together snagged around the animal’s dorsal fin as it was swimming away.
Even that might have been fine if the creature had not decided at that very moment to turn itself into a kind of living torpedo.
Commander J Bailey of HMS Burleigh told the coroner at the time: “It was a very good shot. The line linking the two charges straddled the shark and caught round either its dorsal fin or its tail, so that they were hanging either side of the shark with fuses burning.
“The boat started to turn away from the shark but the shark turned round, made for the boat and was underneath when the two charges exploded.”
The speedboat was completely destroyed by the force of the explosion. Lt Commander Brooks and one other man survived.
The shark is also presumed to have perished in the incident.
The worst shark-related fatality in British waters occurred in 1937.
In the late morning of September 1, in the Kintyre peninsula, West Scotland, steamship captain Angus Brown took members of his family out for a pleasure trip on Eagle, a 15ft planked dinghy.
Basking sharks – a large toothless fish that would normally present no danger to man – could be seen all around the bay.
It’s thought the one of the creatures, which can grow up to 26ft (8m) in length – collided with the boat, capsizing it.
In the confusion Captain Brown, his 10-year-old son and another unnamed family friend all drowned.
The triple fatality is likely to remain the single worst in British waters.