A rare all-white shark found: “The fish of a lifetime”

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Talk about a shark with huge pearly whites.

The very first albino shark was captured off the coast of Great Britain, near the Isle of Wight, reports the British news agency SWNS.

Jason Gillespie was fishing the high seas in the area when he spotted the remarkable three-footed tope shark.

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“I’ve been fishing for 30 years and I’ve never seen one like this,” said Gillespie, 50. “It’s the fish of a lifetime, one in a million. ”

The tope shark, or school shark, has a condition called leucism which results in loss of pigmentation. Leucism occurs when some or all of the pigment cells do not develop during differentiation so that part or all of the animal’s body surface lacks cells capable of making pigments.

Jason Gillespie with the very first albino white shark captured off the coast of Great Britain near the Isle of Wight. (SWNS)

Gillespie explained that he had heard of all-white sharks before, but had never seen one in person.

«JE [had] heard of a person from Wales who caught it a year ago, but it was a lot smaller, around 6 pounds, ”Gillespie explained. I think in general if they lose their color they have a hard time surviving because they don’t have the same camouflage and they can’t hunt as effectively and they get captured by predators. ”

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“With tope, it’s a protected species, so we unhooked them in the water, but the minute we saw this one, I yelled at my mate to grab the net and I knew that I was supposed to take pictures of it so we pulled it on board and took some pictures, ”Gillespie added.

After photographing the shark for what he said was “less than a minute,” the Waterlooville, Hampshire resident released the shark into the ocean.

According to MarineBio.org, tope sharks, which were first discovered in 1758, are “harmless to humans” often found near continental shelves. They are widely distributed on the planet, found in areas such as the western and eastern Atlantic, southern Baja California and the Gulf of California in Mexico and more.

Tope sharks can live up to 55 years and are hunted for a variety of reasons including their meat, liver, oil, and fins. They are listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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