Sightseers certainly got more than they bargained for when a huge shark was seen leaping out of the water off the south coast of England.
The predatory thresher shark was pictured jumping vertically out of the water before slamming its elongated tail on the surface of the sea.
The rare thresher shark is usually found in warmer climates in the mid-Atlantic but the 15 ft long predator, which weighed around 350lbs, appeared in Lyme Bay.
The sighting was witnessed by a group of 10 nature lovers on a charter boat looking for dolphins 25 miles east of Prawle Point, Devon.
The lethal thresher shark was pictured jumping vertically out of the air before slamming its elongated tail on the surface of the sea
One of the two stunning photo frames taken by tour guide Dr Tom Brereton
Tour guide Dr Tom Brereton grabbed his camera from the wheelhouse just in time to capture the moment.
He managed to take two brilliant frames of the predator leaping out of the sea with its nose pointing towards the sky.
Dr Brereton, of Naturetrek, which organised the tour, said at first he believed the animal was a bottlenose dolphin when he first saw it leap out the water.
He added: ‘It jumped out again and our skipper, Ross Parham, who is a keen fishermen, immediately identified it as a thresher shark.
‘I hastily went into the wheelhouse to get my camera and the shark continued to jump clear of the water right beside the boat giving awesome views to everyone on the boat.
‘Seeing the shark leap out of the water really was a surreal and breathtaking experience. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The shark was pictured from the charter boat Spot On, based in Brixham, Devon
Ross Parham, the skipper of the charter boat Spot On, based in Brixham, Devon, said the sighting was rare.
He said: ‘I have seen three thresher sharks leaping out of the water in the 25 years I have been at sea but the other two weren’t as big as this one.
‘It was pretty much just having fun, leaping clear out of the water, it had no style of grace to it.’
Dr Brereton, who is also a research director of Marinelife, said the shark was spotted in an area where the charity had proposed a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) to protect rare white-beaked dolphins in the English Channel.
Thresher sharks are not normally harmful to humans, but can cause serious injury when thrashing their tails.
The shark was spotted around 25 miles out from the south coast of England
The sharks can hit speed of up to 30mph and are so named because of their long, streamlined tails which whip or stun shoals of fish underwater.
They are an endangered species and are on the Red List of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) List of Threatened Specie due to commercial fishing for their meat.
The biggest thresher shark caught in UK waters is about 350lbs by angler Wayne Comben off the Isle of Wight last year. It was not an official record as he released it.
The biggest thresher shark caught in the world on rod and line is one that weighed 767lbs off New Zealand in 1983.