Rare all-white tope shark caught in the UK for the first time
While finding a tope shark is amazing enough, as they are considered a critically endangered species, its made all the rarer for its lack of pigmentation, a rare sight on any animal.
By AARON REICH
A 50-year-old amateur fisherman from the UK managed to catch a first in British waters: An all-white tope shark, The Sun reported Tuesday.Jason Gillespie of Waterloovile, Hampshire, caught the 3 foot long all-white tope shark while fishing near the Isle of Wight. Though an amateur, Gillespie has been fishing for three decades, but he had never seen anything like this before. As tope sharks are a protected species, Gillespie would normally would have released the shark back into the water. But this time, he needed to quickly snap some pictures of this rare find.“With tope, they are a protected species, so we unhook them in the water, but the minute we saw this one I shouted to my mate to grab the net and knew I needed to get some photos of it so we pulled her on board and took some pictures," he explained, according to The Sun.While finding a tope shark is amazing enough, as they are considered a critically endangered species, its made all the rarer for its lack of pigmentation, a rare sight on any animal.The shark's pure-white appearance was due to leucism, which describes any number of conditions that can result in skin, feathers, fur or scales to become completely white, devoid of all pigmentation whatsoever.It isn't the same as true albinism, which is characterized by the eyes turning a shade of red in addition to the lack of skin pigmentation. Nonetheless, leucistic creatures remain an exceedingly rare sight in the wild, as their lack of camouflage makes hunting or evading predators especially difficult."What're the chances? I have no idea. It's the fish of a lifetime, one in a million," Gillespie said, according to The Sun.He held the shark for photographs for "less than a minute" before releasing it back into the water.Despite literally holding a shark in his hands, Gillespie was never in any danger, as the tope sharks are considered to be harmless to humans, according to marine eduction and conservation nonprofit MarineBio.
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