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So It Begins…
On 24th August 1999, a group fishing aboard the vessel Blue Fox (skippered by Mike Turner and Phil Britts) off Cambeak Head near Crackington Haven in Cornwall were in the process of releasing a 9-14kg (20-30 lb) tope shark ( Galeorhinus galeus ) they had caught when they were investigated by a large shark, estimated to be around (15ft) long. The crew described how the shark passed the stern and rolled slightly on to its side, exposing its white underside before swimming away. The crew, which included two angling journalists fishing for Porbeagles ( Lamna nasus ) at the time, had seen many Porbeagles, Shortfin makos ( Isurus oxyrinchus ) and Basking sharks ( Cetorhinus maximus ) during their trips and were able to rule out all three. Additionally, Mr Turner spent many years living off a boat in South Africa and is very familiar with white sharks; he is adamant the animal he saw was a Great white. Although there were cameras onboard, as one of the Blue Fox's regular customers -- Adrian Bradyshaw -- pointed out to me: "The capture on film (let alone a good quality identifying photo) of a fleeting event, such as the appearance of a GW at the side of your boat, to disappear as quickly as it materialised, is no mean feat." Consequently, there were no photos taken and so, despite the remarkable credibility of this account, there remains no unquestionable proof of the shark species involved. The credibility of the Blue Fox encounter was enhanced by two subsequent events shortly afterwards. The day after the Blue Fox incident, in almost exactly the same spot, two men fishing for tope on the boat Blissful witnessed a large shark -- which they said was as least as long as their (17ft) boat -- surface and bite two-thirds off the shark they were hauling in. The full description of the shark's appearance and behaviour towards the boat match perfectly that given by Mr Briggs and his colleagues the day before. Finally, approximately two weeks after the Blue Fox encounter (. September 1999), a lobster fisherman reported a large shark -- estimated to be about -- entangled in his rope off Tintagel Head, about 18km (12 mi.) away from the initial sighting. The crew described the shark as having a slate-grey back, bright white belly and a crescent-shaped mouth with triangular teeth. Unfortunately, because the carcass had no commercial value to the fisherman, it was cut loose without being photographed; the description, however, makes it hard to believe it could be anything other than a white shark.


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