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Largest Shark Ever Caught in British Waters
The largest shark ever caught in British waters was a massive 10 foot in length, with an estimated weight of 550lbs.
It was a porbeagle shark caught by anglers Wayne Comben and Graeme Pullen just 300 yards off the northern coast of Cornwall, in south west England, UK, on the 30th of May, 2012.
Gentle sharks, porbeagles are occasional visitors to UK shores, preferring the deeper waters to be found well offshore.
It is thought that in recent times, there has been an increase in both porbeagle and blue sharks in British waters, due to overfishing at sea resulting in lack of food for them.
Anglers Wayne Comben and Graeme Pullen are experienced game fishermen, and were fishing for tope (which is a member of the shark family) and bull huss fish off the Cornish coast when they caught the monster fish.
They described the surface water exploding when the shark appeared to grab the chum they had just thrown overboard.
It seemed to enter a feeding frenzy, thrashing its tail and fins as seagulls that had swooped down on the chum fled for their lives.
So intent was the shark on getting itself a good meal that it failed to spot the hooked line thrown by the fishermen, and soon found itself caught.
There followed a 90 minutes battle between the two fishermen and the shark, which dragged their 17 foot boat a mile off-course in its desperate efforts to escape.
Finally, totally exhausted, it was dragged up to the side of the boat, where 60 year old veteran fisherman Graeme Pullen tagged it for his fishing business before releasing it to the sea.
video of the record-breaking Porbeagle being captured and tagged
Unlike its bigger cousins, the porbeagle is a timid creature who shies away from human contact and who has never been known to attack and injure humans.
They grow to a maximum length of only 12 feet, and live for a maximum of around 30-40 years, so this 10 feet specimen would be one of their older members.
Slow breeders, like most sharks, porbeagles are being fished out of existence, such is the demand for their fins. The Asian appetite for shark fins soup has spawned a bonanza for shark fishermen who can then sell the fins at market for hugely inflated prices.
They are officially listed as vulnerable on the IUCN list, but are critically endangered in some parts of the world, including the north east Atlantic where this porbeagle was caught.
Largest shark caught in British waters may not enter record books
In order for fishermen to claim the title for having made a record catch in the UK, the British Records Fish Committee insist that fish have to be weighed on scales on dry land.
This results in the death of the fish.
In this case, it is indeed wonderful news to know that these two fishermen returned their record catch to the seas unharmed after tagging it.
The Marine Campaign manager at the Angling Trust, David Mitchell, told the Press:
"It is clear that it is an outstanding and massive specimen.
It could well be a record fish but because it was released unharmed in the water we will never know.
The committee does not accept fish weighed or measured on a boat but it has recently launched a notable fish list in order to recognise such catches as all but a record."
Meanwhile, Dr David Gibson of the National Marine Aquarium is quoted as saying:
"With an animal listed as vulnerable and under such immense pressure as the porbeagle, it would be morally unethical to kill it.
It's great it's been released and [tagging] contributes to greater scientific knowledge".
Here at sharkfacts, we are mightily pleased that this record-breaking porbeagle has been freed to live another day.