Bournemouth beach-goers evacuated from sea after 'shark' sighting

5 August 2021, 17:29 | Updated: 5 August 2021, 22:47

The beach at Boscombe after the sea was evacuated following a possible 'shark sighting'
The beach at Boscombe after the sea was evacuated following a possible 'shark sighting'. Picture: Steve Lutwyche

By Sophie Barnett

Swimmers were evacuated from the sea in Bournemouth after the sighting of a 'shark' sparked panic in the water.

The RNLI said it received reports of "significant movement" in the water at Boscombe beach, leading its lifeguards to take action on Wednesday.

It said there was "no formal identification" of the animal seen - but some witnesses on social media claimed it could have been a shark.

The alert at the Dorset beach ended about 30 minutes later, when swimmers were allowed to re-enter the water.

Steve Lutwyche, who was on holiday with his family at the time of the incident, tweeted: "This is not a drill, I'm on the beach at #Boscombe where the RNLI have had to red flag the beach due to reported sightings of a shark!"

Mr Lutwyche told LBC the lifeguard called everyone out of the water.

"They discreetly referred to sightings of ‘a large marine animal’ so as to not scare any children," he said.

"Lifeguard crews patrolled the bay on a jet ski trying to spot it and after nearly an hour of no-show from Jaws they reopened it.

"Everyone carried on as normal after, kids on paddle-boards looking for it! The RNLI did a very good job of managing it in a calm way, very professional."

Read more: Changes unveiled to foreign travel traffic light system - full list

Read more: No changes will be made to green or amber list for rest of August, minister tells LBC

Pictures shared on social media showed beachgoers gathering on the sand, with no one allowed to swim in the water and red flags erected.

A RNLI spokeswoman said: "On Wednesday August 4, RNLI lifeguards received reports of a large marine animal in the sea near Boscombe Beach, Dorset.

"As a precautionary measure, lifeguards asked beach visitors to evacuate the water and put up red flags.

"Lifeguards used their Rescue Watercraft (RWC) to scan the area and visitors were able to go back into the water half an hour later.

"The RNLI recommends you always visit a lifeguarded beach and report any concerning wildlife to the lifeguards as soon as it's spotted."