A rare 14ft long shark that washed up on a beach in Co. Wexford on Saturday has left marine scientists puzzled.
The smalltooth sand tiger shark was stumbled upon by two Swiss tourists on the shores of Kilmore Quay.
The shark, which is classified as a vulnerable species, is usually found in warmer climes – particularly in deep waters around the Bay of Biscay.
Some quick thinking from the Swiss tourists resulted in the couple reaching out to Assistant Professor Nicholas Payne from Trinity College in Dublin who is an expert in marine ecosystems.
The discovery has left shark biologists across the world puzzled as this is the most northerly discovery of the species to date, and the first time a smalltooth sand tiger shark has washed up on Irish shores.
Nicholas Payne has called the surprising discovery "very important." Speaking to the Wexford People, Nicholas said "it's really unusual to see them turn up in an area that they've never been seen before."
The Observers App, a marine life citizen science movement has since appealed to the general public for any information they may have on the shark. Taking to Twitter, they said: "We received a report of a small toothed sand tiger shark yesterday at Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford. This shark has been dismembered and we are appealing to the public for information."
Warning ⚠️ THIS IS NOT an APRIL FOOLS! We received a report of a small toothed sand tiger shark yesterday at Kilmore Quay, Co. Wexford. This shark has been dismembered and we are appealing to the public for information ℹ️ #ObserversApp #CitizenScience pic.twitter.com/4cF2WLPm2Y
— Observers App (@ObserversApp) April 2, 2023
Very little is known of the biology and behaviour of the smalltooth sand tiger shark. Limited research shows that it is an active predator of bony fish, invertebrates, and cartilaginous fish. In contrast to its intimidating size and appearance, this shark is harmless to people, having never been known to behave aggressively towards humans.