A shark which had got stranded in shallow waters on the Yorkshire coast has been put down, according to a marine charity.
The basking shark was spotted in the water trying to beach itself at Filey in North Yorkshire, on Thursday.
The beach was closed while a lifeboat crew tried to prevent it from beaching and to get it back out to sea.
Marine charity Sea Watch said it was believed the creature was ill and the decision was made to euthanise it.
Sea Watch’s Robin Petch said: “It was in the shallows in Filey Bay trying to beach itself and members of the public, the Coastguard and the RNLI were in attendance trying to stop it and persuade it to go out to sea.
“There was a vet in attendance and in the end they decided the best thing to do for the animal was to euthanise it.”
- The basking shark is the largest shark found in UK seas
- They can be up to 12 metres in length and weigh up to six tonnes
- Despite their size, they feed on zooplankton
- They are believed to have an average lifespan of about 50 years
- They are most commonly seen in the summer, when they arrive in British waters
- The large, black, triangular dorsal fin moves slowly through the water, with the tail tip and bulbous snout often visible above the waves
- They are found all around the UK coast, but most frequently sited around the south-west of England, Wales, Isle of Man and west coast of Scotland
- The North East Atlantic population are classed as endangered and are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
Source: The Wildlife Trusts
Rescuers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue took part in efforts to try and get the animal back into deeper water.
A spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, the shark appeared to be struggling as it was listing consistently over to its right-hand side and circling in the shallows, sometimes needing support from the rescuers.”
“Despite attempts to move it into deeper water the shark continued to head back to the beach where it restranded and later in the evening was put to sleep by a vet due to the poor prognosis.”
Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the oceans. Despite their size they only feed on zooplankton and are not considered a danger to humans.
“This one was a little under four and a half metres, so it was a young one, not a juvenile but not quite an adult,” Mr Petch said.
“They can grow quite large – the biggest ones recorded are about 10 to 11 metres.”
He said they were usually found in deeper waters and it was possible the animal had been ill and come into shore.
It could also have got trapped in the shallow waters and then been starved of oxygen.
Basking sharks are an endangered species.