Basking shark caught in creels in Loch Broom

image captionThe shark was dead by the time the divers arrived

A shark has been found dead after it became tangled in a fleet of creels in Loch Broom in the north west Highlands.

The basking shark, estimated to be at least 9m (30ft) long, was spotted by fisherman Jerry Burne on Tuesday.

Divers were called out in an attempt to carry out a rescue, but it was already dead by the time they arrived.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) originally asked for the shark to be towed to Ullapool, but it was too big and had to be disposed of at sea.

Sam Walton, one of the divers involved, told the BBC Scotland news website he had been on a dive boat when he was asked to go to the fisherman's aid.

The commercial diver said: "We got called up on the radio by a fishing boat that had picked up something heavy, either a whale or a shark, in its fleet.

"Sadly the shark was already dead.

"We cut it from the creels and tied a rope to it so it could be towed away."

Mr Walton said Mr Burne was interested in wildlife and had been upset by the shark's death.

He added: "It's a hell of a shame."

Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world and feed on plankton.

A coastguard spokesman said a 9m (30ft) basking shark could weigh anywhere between five and 10 tonnes.

"Under normal circumstances the shark and the nets would have been checked by government authorities to establish a cause of death, and check for signs of disease, but in this case it was obvious that the shark died because it was caught in the nets," he said.

"Unfortunately, the boat didn't have sufficient weight or capacity to tow the shark in but the coastguard is currently making efforts to track it down."

He said the body represented a significant risk to small boats, especially those travelling at speed.

The shark, like any animal, will sink initially but will fill with gases and rise to the surface within about two weeks.

"A shark that size could cause a lot of damage to a boat if it crashes into it," the coastguard spokesman added.

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