'Shark' fin captured by photographer in West Sussex - but experts think it was something else
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Video footage emerged of what appeared to be shark fin off the coast at East Worthing on Saturday evening (October 7).
Toby Benjamin, a writer and lecturer from Worthing, was at the beach with his wife and daughter at the time of the sighting.
Toby, 55, posted his daughter Phoebe’s photos and video in a post on X (formerly Twitter).
He wrote: “Last night we saw a large slow moving shark at East Worthing for 25 mins, 150 metres out. Images through my monoculars at 6.30 pm. Can anyone help identify the shark?”
Toby told the Worthing Herald that he and his family ‘were convinced it was a shark’, adding: “It really looked like a shark but experts have told me they think it’s a seal. A fried of mine saw something similar but spotted it was a seal when it turned its head.”
The Sussex Dolphin Project responded to Toby on social media.
A spokesperson said: “This is very interesting. From the video we are leaning towards it being a bottling seal, a resting behaviour that can make them look like a fin.”
Stephen Savage, Sussex Regional Coordinator Sea Watch Foundation, agreed.
He said: “My best guess would be a resting seal which rest head up in the water, grey seals are observed locally doing this.
"Also, sharks have to swim to breathe, so a shark would not swim slowly, although there is no indication as what slow is. But if is was observed for 25 minutes, it must have been very slow.
"There is an adult grey seal swimming back and forth along the coast and may well be this seal.”
Toby said he initially thought it was a bird floating in the sea but a fellow beachgoer ‘thought it was a dolphin’.
"When we looked more carefully and looked on Google we thought dolphins’ fins are more curved,” Toby said.
"We started looking at white shark fins and it seemed to be a match to one seen in Goring in 2022, so we were slightly in awe.
"It was going so slowly.”
Toby said it was ‘quite a relief’ to hear it wasn’t a shark.
He explained: “We swim there so we wouldn’t want to go that far out if it was a place where a predator was coming along in changing temperatures.
"From the photos it really does look like a shark. I’ve seen three seals before and this is probably the fourth.”