The shark that thinks it’s a dolphin

When marine researcher Scott Sheehan saw an object launch itself out of the water, he assumed it was a dolphin feasting on baitfish. But was it?.

“We saw this crazy-looking shark explode from the water, it was at least 2m in the air before it smashed down on to the surface in this massive belly flop.”

What Mr Sheehan, who said the shark was between 3.5 and 4m long.

Mr Sheehan, project co-ordinator for the independent research group had been aboard a boat looking for humpback whales when he came across the feeding frenzy.

The acrobatic shark was a common thresher – there are also pelagic and bigeye thresher varieties, which favour temperate waters, grow to more than 5m and, being a fish and squid eater, are not considered to be dangerous to humans.

Dr Peddemors said threshers were “not rare” but sightings were infrequent and “not much is known about thresher sharks off the east coast of Australia”.