South West Wales

Shark 'may have attacked porpoise' off Pembrokeshire coast

Porpoises at Strumble in 2015 Image copyright Ken Barnett
Image caption The Seat Trust was carrying out a porpoise survey when it witnessed the attack

Sea Trust volunteers believe they have seen a shark attacking an adult porpoise off the Pembrokeshire coast.

The team was at Strumble conducting a porpoise survey on Friday when it witnessed the attack.

Sea Trust director Cliff Benson said: "The most likely candidate would be a mako shark."

A mako shark - a cousin of the great white - was caught in 2013 by a crew fishing near Milford Haven.

A mako-type mackerel shark was also recovered on Barmouth Beach, north west Wales, in December 2014.

Mr Benson said: "Several porpoises were in the rough water of the tide race quite a way out when suddenly we noticed a lot of white water as something biggish appeared to be thrashing about on the surface.

"It was too far to tell what the something was but it looked quite violent.

Image copyright Gwion Liggett
Image caption A mako-type mackerel shark was found on Barmouth Beach last year

"I moved over to our telescope but the main action seemed to have stopped, although what looked like the head and shoulders of an adult porpoise were moving as if held up by something beneath, pushing it along.

"It appeared and disappeared a couple of times and I just made out a red stain in the surf just before it finally went down below the surface.

"It is difficult to be absolutely certain, but I think what we witnessed was a porpoise being attacked and held in its jaws by some other animal until it was dead or sufficiently subdued to be swallowed beneath the surface."

'Food chain'

He said sharks were not uncommon in Welsh waters.

"A 10ft long mako shark was washed up on a beach in Barmouth, north Wales recently in which the remains of a porpoise were found," Mr Benson said.

"They have also been caught alive in Pembrokeshire waters by shark anglers, along with big blue and porbeagle sharks.

"In the end it has to be recognised that sharks are a natural part of the food chain here off the coast of Wales. Sea Trust believes they should be celebrated along with all our amazing sea life."

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