Suffolk coast: Porpoise may have been killed by shark

A DEAD porpoise with apparently gruesome bite marks has been found on a Suffolk beach - fuelling speculation a shark or killer whale may be feeding off our coastline.

It is the fourth such find on the East Anglian coast in the last month.

Two porpoises with bite marks were found at Horsey and neighbouring Winterton in Norfolk, and two more people have come forward with photographs of dead porpoises with similar injuries found at Covehithe near Southwold and Overstrand near Cromer.

National shark expert Ken Collins, who runs a shark-tagging programme at the University of Southampton, examined the image of the porpoise found at Covehithe by painter and decorator Mike Baker and confirmed it appeared it had been bitten by a shark.

He said: “There is no obvious damage of the kind that occurs if a porpoise has been caught up in fishing gear. It is not clear whether it was killed by a shark or a shark was scavenging on a dead porpoise.”

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Dr Collins, who had previously confirmed likely shark bite marks on the Horsey porpoise, said it would not have to be a large shark as a porpoise was only the size of an alsatian.

However, he said it was perfectly feasible for a great white shark to be found in our waters, although he admitted that the possibility would be a “lightning strike”.

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Mr Baker, 46, of Essex Road, Lowestoft, said: “I often walk along the beach at Covehithe and when I did so back in February I had my camera with me.

“When I saw the porpoise I thought, ‘wow’, that has got bite marks and it looks pretty mutilated.

“I have seen a dead seal on the beach before, but never a porpoise.”

The porpoise at Overstrand was found by Norwich shoe shop assistant Christina Evans, 58, who was with her partner Malcolm Reeve on the beach where they have a hut.

Ms Evans, who lives at Keswick Hall, near Cringleford, said: “We often watch seals from our beach hut, but the sight of a porpoise was unusual.”

She said they took a photograph of it at the time, in February, but only realised something unusual might be happening when they saw coverage of another porpoise find.

Mr Reeve, 58, a technician, said: “I don’t really want to think about whether there is a shark out there because I like going swimming.”

Naturalist Percy Trett believes that the attacks are more likely to be the work of a killer whale, which are found in the waters off Scotland and sometimes in the North Sea.

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