Close encounters in West Sussex
Shark sighting in Selsey! Sorry, 'in' Selsey is a bit misleading - they weren't posing along the high street - but just off the coast, at the RSPB Medmerry reserve, up to 50 sharks were seen last month. Not your average large-group visitor to the Sussex coast, they came to feed on the plethora of crabs and other marine life that's thriving in the reserve - which proves how successful the reserve is becoming, even in such a short time.
Most sources said there were about 50 sharks, though when the tabloids got hold of it the number mysteriously doubled. I wish I'd been able to get there to see for myself. They were smooth-hound sharks, up to five foot long, which apparently are quite common off the British coast but you rarely see them, as they are quite hard to spot. Two had been spotted at Medmerry in June, but last month's sighting was unprecedented. No wonder they caused a national media sensation.
An RSPB warden described the sight as 'astonishing'. The Independent website quoted him as saying: 'We knew that in time Medmerry was going to be a great place for wildlife, but I don't think we expected this.'
Medmerry was only formed a few years ago, between 2011 and 2013, when an area between Selsey and Bracklesham was allowed to flood both to protect local homes and to create an inter-tidal wildlife haven. In fact it's the largest 'managed realignment' scheme on the open coast in Europe, and you'll find footpaths, cycle paths and bridle paths to explore - start your visit at the Pagham Harbour visitor centre for up-to-date information. Click here to view our selection of cottages along the Sussex coast.
I'm sure it was the marine life that attracted the sharks and not someone playing death metal music, which according to the Discovery Channel has been shown to attract them. Apparently sharks hear the vibrations, and that, er, genre happens to sound like struggling fish. You just knew there'd be a good description of death metal out there!