It is quite early for ‘shark silly season' to kick off in the mainstream media, but various outlets were touting a sighting of a possible great white shark off the South Coast on 4 February – while the grainy shot more likely shows a chubby seal ‘bottling' at the surface, or even the end of an outflow pipe, according to some.
Web designer James Venn was apparently on the beach at Goring-by-Sea in West Sussex when he saw something come up behind the waves. He said: “I couldn't make out what it was so I followed it along the shore. It then surface, so I ran to grab my camera and looked out to try and see it again before taking the photos.
“At the time I thought it was a seal but, when I looked at the photos again, I thought it doesn't look like a seal so it was something else.”
Before sending the images to ‘shark experts', he commented: “I'm still 50/50 about whether it's a shark or seal.”
He sent the image to veteran shark fisherman Graeme Pullen, who said it was ‘an undisputed shark' and ‘could only be a juvenile great white shark who was looking for seals'.
However, many people who have seen the image on Social Media have agreed it is far more likely to be a chubby, contented seal ‘bottling' at the surface, while some even say it is just the end of an outfall pipe that can protrude out of the water at certain tide times.