Belfast Telegraph

Fisherman Sammy lands 5ft shark... in Strangford Lough

By John Mulgrew

Who would have thought the tranquil surroundings of Strangford Lough could be home to one of the most fearsome-looking beasts of the sea.

One Comber man found out for himself after catching a little more than he'd bargained for during a fishing trip on the lough last week.

Instead of a measly mackeral, Sammy Garrett pulled a five foot long shark out of the water while out on a fishing boat on Thursday.

He had landed a hefty tope shark - weighing in at an impressive 46lbs.

After releasing the fish, which is a protected species in the UK, he said that although the variety of shark was native to the area, catching one was very rare, even for a keen fisherman such as himself.

"I go fishing at every free opportunity but the biggest thing I have ever caught before is a pike," Mr Garrett said.

John Joyce of the Marine Institute in Galway said the fish was one of the largest varieties of shark found along Ireland's shores.

"They are actually quite common and one of the species you are more likely to see in our waters - they don't normally grow any bigger than about two metres."

The sharks, which can live for 55 years and grow up to 120lbs, are also found in warmer climates such as the Pacific Ocean.

"They are a marine species and normally found in the sea - usually in open water and also in the Mediterranean and the North Sea.

"But they do tend to come inshore in summer months so it is possible to find them in areas such as Strangford Lough."

Mr Joyce added that the species was common among competition anglers keen to land a weighty fish. "People do go out and angle for them but they are not really big or aggressive enough to hurt someone.

"There aren't that many types of sharks around these coasts but the tope shark is one of the most common," Mr Joyce said.

This recent catch comes only weeks after hundreds of people gathered at Portrush Harbour to witness a stunning 14-foot long basking shark swimming among locals in the shallow waters.

In July, one rather surprised Limavady fisherman landed a 300lb porbeagle shark off the coast of Donegal.

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