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Rare 6ft shark washed up then decapitated on Hampshire beach

An appeal has been launched to recover the head of a rare smalltooth sand tiger shark after the fish was washed up on a Hampshire beach.

The 2 metre (6ft) long shark was initially found on Lepe beach on Friday.

Dan Snow, the historian, was enlisted to secure and examine the creature. However, before he arrived, the head, tail and fin had been cut off and taken.

Alisha Openshaw, 38, thought she had rescued the large shark when she spotted it in the shallows of her local beach and dragged it into deeper waters.

Although she watched it swim away, the shark – which is of a species classified as vulnerable and rarely spotted – was subsequently found dead on the shore.

Snow, 44, said: “I was in London for Mother’s Day, I was going to see the show Six.

“I saw on Twitter that this shark had washed up on my local beach, and I posted something funny about it. Then I suddenly got all these messages coming in from my scientist friends saying this is incredibly unusual.

“They told me: ‘You’ve got to try and secure it for science, it’s really special.’”

Snow added that due to the train strike, he relied on lifts from people and taxis to reach the beach.

He said he put the remainder of the corpse in a local farmer’s fridge, where it will be stored until someone from the Zoological Society of London arrives on Tuesday to collect it.

On Sunday morning, Snow put out an impassioned plea on Twitter for the head to be returned.

He tweeted: “Biologist friends like @Ben_garrod identified it as an exceptionally rare visitor to these shores and asked me to secure it.

“I failed. The head, tail and fin were grabbed before I assembled a big enough team to drag it off the beach to the nearest road. We went to secure the shark for science last night. But we were too late!

“Please, please – if you have the head get in touch. The scientists want to have a look at it, and then it’s yours to keep.”

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The deepwater shark is known to be non-aggressive towards humans but normally frequents warmer waters than the UK coasts.

The strictly protected species can grow to 4 metres in length and weigh up to 289kg. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are estimated to be fewer than 250 remaining.

Openshaw, a hairdresser from Dibden Purlieu in Hampshire, was on the beach with her children when she spotted the creature.

She said: “He was splashing around the water around the start, and I got worried that nobody was going to help him.

“At first I wasn’t sure what it could be, but once I got there I could definitely see it was a shark.

“It must have been there for a good two hours, and I just can’t believe nobody tried to help him. I don’t want any animal to suffer, I can’t even kill a fly myself, and I know I just wanted to save him.”

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