A Fleetwood fisherman who caught a stingray in waters off Rossall School is warning people to beware if swimming or paddling in the tide.
Fran Schaap, 42, was hauling skate nets two miles off shore when he landed the stingray, which was the size of a dustbin lid. He said: “I knew straight away what it was and I want to let people know that stingrays can be found in our waters and to watch out. It was just a shock to me to pull it up. We had a look at it, you could clearly see its sting, it was flapping around and we let it go.”
Fran has fished all his life and these days operates a part-time fishing business on board his catamaran Sursum Corda. He mainly fishes for bass and lobster.
Stingrays are known as calm creatures, but can attack with their venomous barb if they feel threatened. Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin was killed when a stingray barb pierced his chest.
Contrary to belief they are only found in warm waters, Stingrays are found in the English Channel and do venture further north where waters are shallow. Richard Harrington, from the Marine Conservation Society said: “Stingrays are occasionally found in the Irish Sea. Rays and skates are vulnerable to being over fished, and stingrays are considered rare (near threatened) in the North East Atlantic.
“They are not often landed and sold in the UK. They can survive being caught and carefully returned to the water, so it is great to see this specimen returned to sea.”