THREE fishermen are convinced they netted a great white shark off the coast of Eastbourne last week.
Peter Warren, John Ford and Graham Barker were fishing in deep water near Beachy Head Ledge when they landed what they believed to be a small great white shark in their boat.
Experts argue it is more likely to be a giant tope, a common fish-eating shark, but the trio are adamant they had never seen anything like it in all their years of fishing.
The men were unable to bring the creature ashore because they would have been fined for breaching regulations but they took photographs of it before returning it into the sea off Eastbourne Pier.
Peter, known as Beamer, who has been fishing since he left school, said, “We pulled the nets up over the side of the boat and there it was, between five and six foot, thrashing about on the deck. It was very angry.”
Graham Barker, whose boat Moonstar the trio were fishing from, said, “I have been fishing all of my life and never seen anything like it before. It was grey on the top, white underneath with big diamond-shaped teeth.”
Jim Ford, whose nets were used on board, said, “First of all we thought it was a tope but we already had a tope on board and they were nothing alike. We phoned the Southern Head Fishing to see if we could bring it ashore but there were two local fishery officers there and they told us to let it back into the water. As we were drifting back we put it back just by the pier.”
The trio had set off from the beach behind the fish shop which is next to the old lifeboat station early on Monday morning.
They had taken Graham’s boat as Peter’s is currently being restored at Peter Leonard Marine in Denton and used John’s nets.
They had put the nets down north east of the Beachy Head Lighthouse and when they spotted the creature in their haul, they sent photographs back to Andy Chatton, the manager at Southern Head Fishing.
The photographs were then forwarded on to the Shark Trust and other fishing authorities which all believe it was a very large tope.
Andy told the Gazette, “I don’t think it was a great white but the guys were and still are convinced it was.”
Peter said, “We can’t argue with the experts but we know what we saw and that wasn’t a tope.”
Tony Kirrage from Tony’s Tackle said, “A great white shark was seen off the coast of France some time ago so it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that there could be one out there. We are going to be taking a good look at the photographs.”