British beaches ‘face huge invasion of sharks’ due to quieter waters in lockdown

A huge invasion of sharks is currently under way along the British coast, an expert claims.

Professor David Sims says reduced marine traffic during lockdown could lie behind the surge.

Last year it saw large predators lurking in “very shallow” water, he added.

There have been multiple sightings of both basking and porbeagle sharks in recent weeks, with witnesses spotting them closer to the shore than usual.

Some have ended up in marinas while others have been seen in the sea just off the coast.

Marine explorer Rupert Kirkwood said he saw five basking sharks during one kayaking trip in Cornwall over the weekend.

Sharks were also filmed in two different marinas in Plymouth, Devon, last week.

Mr Sims, a professor of marine ecology, ocean and earth science at the University of Southampton, explained coronavirus restrictions could be behind it.

He said: "Porbeagles large or small are rarely seen in marinas.

"They do hunt fish in shallow waters so it is possible that was following fish schools.

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"One reason that it may have come so close is the reduced marine traffic associated with the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

"During the main lockdown period in March – July 2020 in Europe, large pelagic sharks such as blue sharks were seen venturing into very shallow water and in harbours and marinas.

"This has been put down to 'quieter' seas, as fewer passenger, fishing and tourism vessels were operating at that time.

"Sharks are sensitive to sound, including ship sounds which are sometimes avoided, so it is possible that if there has been a quieter 'sound', this may have acted to help extend the explorations of this young shark into a Plymouth marina."

He added that he has been satellite tracking sharks in north Cornwall.

The prof said: “This showed that throughout July and August the sharks occupied localised areas within the Celtic Sea, between the south-west UK, south-west Wales and southern Ireland.

"At times a porbeagle was only a few kilometres off of the Cornish coast.

“Only one shark was tracked into the autumn, when it moved into deep water off the continental shelf, then north towards colder latitudes.

"This was likely part of seasonal movements to other foraging locations."

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