Swimmers in the northern resort of Wissant had a shock when they were ordered out of the water after a shark sighting.

"/> Swimmers in the northern resort of Wissant had a shock when they were ordered out of the water after a shark sighting.

" />


Shark spotted in English Channel

Swimmers in the northern resort of Wissant had a shock when they were ordered out of the water after a shark sighting.

The incident happened on Wednesday when a lifeguard spotted a suspicious-looking shape in the water.  

“While looking out at the sea I saw a round fin,” Franck Peslherbe told local newspaper La Voix du Nord. “I said to myself: that’s not a seal.”

He contacted his colleagues and asked them to give a second opinion. They reached the same conclusion and the evacuation order was given.

The scary visitor was almost certainly a basking shark, according to experts, a species which can grow to up to 12 metres in length, making it the second largest living fish. The shark spotted in the Channel was around two to three metres, according to witnesses, so probably a younger fish.

“It’s completely harmless,” said Dominique Mallevoix from Nausicaa, the sea-life and marine centre in nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer. “The basking shark only eats plankton.”

After two hours, the shark disappeared from view and the all-clear was given for swimmers to go back into the water. At around 5pm, a kitesurfer emerged from the water in a state of panic. He had reported coming face-to-face with the shark, which led to a second evacuation of the water.

Basking sharks are rare in the English Channel, although not unheard of. “It’s likely that they were following the movements of plankton so they could eat,” marine scientist Agathe Lefranc told the newspaper.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French honeymooner killed in shark attack

A French honeymooner was attacked and killed by a shark on Wednesday while he was surfing not far from the beach on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, authorities said.

French honeymooner killed in shark attack
French gendarmes talk to the wife (C) of a 36 year-old French surfer attacked and killed by a shark. Photo: Richard Bouhet/AFP

The 36-year-old was in the sea off the popular beach of Brisants de Saint-Gilles when a shark charged at him twice, prompting a nearby swimmer to raise the alert when he saw blood on the water, the local prefecture said.

Lifeguards jumped in the water to fetch the victim, who had lost a lot of blood and was in cardiac and respiratory arrest. They brought him back to the beach but were unable to revive him.

The shark had bitten the surfer on the arm and on the thigh. His wife was on the beach when the attack happened, and is being treated for shock, authorities said.

The deadly shark attack was the first this year on the island, where three people were killed by sharks in the past two years.

Last summer, another surfer in the Reunion island was attacked by a shark that tore off his arm and leg, although he survived.

Sharks are not man-eaters, but sometimes mistake humans for their natural prey, like seals or tortoises, and at other times hurt surfers as they "mouth" them out of curiosity, experts say.

Last year, 78 shark attacks were reported around the world, of which eight were fatal.

The series of shark attacks in the Reunion island has seen a number of measures implemented. Local authorities have initiated several scientific studies to try and better understand the way of life of the animals.

People have also been deployed near beaches on boats or in the water to keep an eye on swimmers and surfers and spot sharks before they attack.