South West Wales

Fisherman hooks 12ft 8in thresher shark off Pembrokeshire

The thresher shark with the fishermen Image copyright Andy Truelove
Image caption It was all hands on deck to haul in the thresher shark

A fisherman has caught a 12ft 8in (4m) long thresher shark - thought to the biggest ever pulled from Welsh waters.

George Simmonds, 51, from Llanelli, took two hours to haul the fish on to a boat off Dale in Pembrokeshire.

Three men helped to lift it on board and they calculated its weight to be approximately 21 stone (133kg) before setting it free.

Only three thresher sharks are believed to have been caught in Wales, with the previous record set in 2015.

That one weighed 19 stone (120kg) and was caught by Mr Simmons' friend, David Thomas, in waters off Milford Haven.

The pair were together on the latest fishing expedition on Wednesday morning when they saw a pair of thresher sharks leaping from the water.

It was then that the wheel on Mr Simmonds' fishing rod started spinning and his line extended by about 300m - but it took nearly two hours before the shark was caught.

"It was pretty hard and when I saw it, let's just say I said a few choice adjectives," he said.

"I've been fishing since I was young enough to hold a fishing rod and I've travelled all over the world fishing - but this was a big moment, a personal achievement for me.

"It's so rare and difficult to land a thresher shark as they are so large. In the shark world, it's up there at the top of the list."

What is a thresher shark?

Image copyright Andy Truelove
  • They get their name as a result of their exceptionally long, thresher-lie tail, which can be as long as the total body length.
  • They are active predators and use their tail as a weapon to stun prey.
  • They are often found along the continental shelves of North America and Asia.

Meirion Williams, from Bridgend - who is known as Pie - organises regular shark fishing trips in the summer months off the Pembrokeshire coast and was with Mr Simmonds and some others when they made the catch.

He said records showed it was only the third thresher shark caught off the coast and they believed it was a the largest and heaviest - but they are unable to claim an official record because they did not kill their catch.

"It was so big it got caught in the hatch door of the boat as we tried to get it on board," he said.

"The body was 6ft 8in long and the tail was 6ft - it was the length of the boat.

"We put the shark back quickly and then it swam off really calmly.

"These sharks are very, very rare to see in Wales and so hard to catch."

Andy Truelove, the skipper of the boat, added: "As with any shark there is a risk of being bitten and it does happen - never seen an incident myself and wouldn't want to, teeth are like razor blades.

"With a thresher there is also a risk from the tail, it could do you a lot of damage. Fortunately this lady was well behaved."

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