A rare species of shark that usually lives in the tropical waters of Australia and Brazil has been found on the UK coastline.
Staff at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, Devon, believe the creature which washed up dead on a nearby beach was a crocodile shark.
Walker Steven Greenfields spotted it while out with family at Hope Cove, south Devon, and was so surprised by its appearance that he contacted the aquarium with photographs of the find.
He told the Press Association: “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.”
Ross Spearing and his son, Nathan, were also intrigued by the animal and sent in photos after spotting it on a walk.
James Wright, curator at the aquarium, said numerous traits visible in the photographs suggested it was not any shark usually recorded in UK waters.
He said: “Exploring our network of contacts led to successful identification by Marc Dando, who is a local professional wildlife artist, whose work can be seen at the aquarium.
“This species has never been recorded in the UK before, as it is normally found in deep waters during the day in tropical climates.
“It is likely to be an isolated incident, but there have been similar stranding incidents in South Africa. This time of year though UK waters are at their coldest so this occurrence is very unusual.”
According to the Shark Research Institute, the shark is noted for its “huge eyes” and “prominent long, slender teeth on a highly protrusible jaw.”