A shark considered rare in the UK has had its head and tail severed after being found dead on a beach.
Locals strolling on Lepe Beach in Hampshire on Saturday discovered a dead shark which was later spotted without a head, tail and fin.
Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow saw the shark and tweeted that a biologist he knew said it was an “exceptionally rare visitor to these shores”.
He asked for his head to be returned so that scientists could study it.
Mr Snow tweeted a video at 01:00 GMT from a road near the beach where he and a group of local people had dragged the 8ft-long (2.4m) shark in an attempt to protect it.
“We got a good chunk out of it but trophy hunters came in just before us and they took the head and the dorsal fin on the tail,” he said.
It was “really disappointing”, he added, as he and the group had been asked by scientists “to secure this carcass from this unique find in UK waters”.
Mr Snow appealed on Twitter for whoever had the head to bring it back temporarily so scientists could examine it, adding that the individual could then keep the head.
He told the BBC that the researchers hoped to see the teeth and the head, as they believed the animal could be a smalltoothed sand tiger shark, which is usually found in warmer waters.
He said it was a rare opportunity to have access to the shark and that the scientists who contacted him wanted to study it to “help us learn more about our oceans, ocean health and climate change”. .
Dr Ben Garrod, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of East Anglia, said seeing the shark was important for scientists because it offered a “snapshot” of animals living in international waters.
“The oceans cover 71 or 72% of our planet, but it’s still incredibly mysterious,” he told the BBC.
“Every time we see a whale breaching or a shark running aground, it’s like finding Roman treasure or Viking daggers.”
He said the species was not usually seen on British shores and his study could provide insight into feeding habits and water temperatures, depending on the shark’s health before it died.
“They are active predators that hunt fish; however, they are in no way dangerous to people,” he said.
“We should celebrate that we get incredible and iconic animals like this, including predators, rather than being afraid of them; it shows that we potentially have so much more in our marine environment.”
The Zoological Society of London will collect the shark’s remains for study on Tuesday.
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