A crocodile shark, a marine creature normally found in deep tropical waters, has been discovered washed up on a beach in Devon, England.
Steven Greenfields, who discovered the carcass, is quoted by the Plymouth Herald as saying, “We regularly visit this beach and have never seen anything like this before. My whole family was stunned as the animal had really unusual features, but was unmistakably a shark.”
Crocodile sharks, first described in 1936, belong to the mackerel shark family. They’re found in warm, offshore waters and prey largely on fish, squid, and crustaceans.
They grow to about three feet and boast large, saucer-shaped eyes, suggesting that these are nighttime feeders.
Crocodile sharks are listed as “near threatened” by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature.
“I have experience with sharks whilst swimming and diving overseas,” Greenfields said. “But, despite a fair amount of fishing and swimming in the UK all my life, [I] have never seen any shark in UK waters other than dogfish.”
Realizing he had a rare species at his feet, Greenfields notified the National Marine Aquarium. The aquarium identified the crocodile shark based on photographs by Ross Spearing and his son, Nathan.
James Wright, aquarium curator, is quoted by Devon Live as saying, “On first inspection of the photos we thought this animal could be a juvenile porbeagle shark, which is found in UK waters. However, we identified numerous traits which suggested it was not any shark usually recorded in UK waters.”
Wright theorized that the shark perished from shock after venturing beyond its range into much colder waters.