US Expert: Porpoise killed by shark

BITE marks on a baby porpoise found dead on the beach at Scratby continue to create speculation - with a US expert asserting it had been attacked by a shark, and others suggesting a killer whale or a dolphin was the culprit.

BITE marks on a baby porpoise found dead on the beach at Scratby continue to create speculation - with a US expert asserting it had been attacked by a shark, and others suggesting a killer whale or a dolphin was the culprit.

Journalist Kevin Harris, host of Shark Conspiracies lives in southern California, and he emailed the Mercury after seeing a picture and report of a young porpoise found on Scratby beach last Friday, and featured on the newspaper's website.

The porpoise - three feet long - was discovered with a huge hole in its side and gash mark on its body.

He said: “There is no doubt that a shark was involved.”

In December, a seal was fatally injured and washed up off Sheringham, its injuries sparking fears of a shark.

However, Welshman Chris Chavard disregards the theory, saying he would have thought an attack from a hungry Great White would have left the body of the porpoise in shreds rather than a neat circular shape as is evident from the photo.

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He pondered: “If it is a shark attack, it may be a type more closely associated to British waters, especially at this time of year, a Porbeagle Shark. It is the same family as the Great White but smaller and has a 'neater' as well as smaller bite circumference and is well known to thrive in the colder North Atlantic regions.”

But Mr Chavard has another theory: “I feel both the seal and porpoise might well be victims of another predator which prefers the colder waters than a Great White and that's a Killer Whale.

“Killer Whales are known to toy with their victims, making one lethal bite but then grabbing it and throwing it around....just wondered if those bite marks on the dorsal and tail fin are where the whale has simply grabbed the porpoise, after the lethal bite, to literally hurl it into the air as a plaything.

“Living in Wales, one often hears of seals showing signs of bite marks off the West Wales coast. Every time you hear the claim of shark attack, maybe, but there are a lot more Killer Whales around the British Isles than there are Great Whites.”

It sounds very much to me that you haven't got a great white shark but in fact aggressive Dolphins.”

And another theory has come from Jason Watts in Inverness. He said: “Here in the Moray Firth, where there is the largest resident population of bottlenose dolphins in the UK, I have personally witnessed dolphins bullying and killing porpoises, apparantly for fun.”

Reader Aileen Mobbs who took pictures of the dead animal said: “It looks a bit gruesome but it does look like a big bite mark with lots of little incisions on the fins and tail. I am no expert but after the article about the seal in north Norfolk and seeing this bite mark you do have to wonder…”

And reader Chris Hogg of Scratby also took photographs of the gouged remains of the porpoise.

He said: “What I find more interesting relates to a story in the Mercury a couple of weeks ago concerning an incident concerning a bite mark in a seal. Thoughts were aired regarding a shark but it was dismissed with other explanations offered.

“However, I attach photos of the Scratby mammal body and ask you to notice the 'bite' out of the head. There are also 'teeth' marks around the bitten off dorsal and also the body above the tail.

“The body was in good condition and in fact there was signs of slight bleeding on the beach below the body. Looks like a bite to me and something with a very big mouth and razor sharp pointed teeth.

The American host of Shark Conspiracies also believes the porpoise was killed by a shark.

Mr Harris said: “Based on the published picture, and the nature/location of the injury on the porpoise, there is no doubt that a shark was involved. I would also speculate, based on the fresh blood on the beach, that the porpoise was attacked while alive... in other words, it was not a scavenge situation.

“As for the species in question, a great white is certainly possible, though other shark species will attack a dolphin or other cetaceans when the opportunity exists. These other species include the mako, great blue, oceanic whitetip, bull and bronze whaler.”

And he warned: “As for people suggesting a shark was not involved, I would ask them not to jeopardise public safety and public trust in order to fulfill their agenda.”

Any readers have their views? e-mail