Looking back... Day-trippers were unaware of shark lurking in lough

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Hundreds of day-trippers enjoyed a swim at Hazelbank on a warm Sunday in May 1959 unaware of the drama which was unfolding in Belfast Lough.

Visitors flocked to the beauty spot, making their way along the road from Whitehouse trolley bus terminus.

The corporation was said to have diverted transport from other routes to accommodate approximately 1,500 day-trippers.

As visitors swam along the shore, there were sightings of two sharks in the sea.

One was spotted by 21-year-old boatman Robert Shaw who worked onboard a Belfast Harbour Commission pilot ship.

Accompanied by engineer Tony Cowan, the pair gave chase in the ship’s motor launch catching up at the buoy opposite Cultra.

The basking shark, believed to have been harmless, was killed when a boat hook was plunged into its back.

A big ripple followed before the shark became submerged.

A second sighting of a shark was reported further round the coast at Ardglass, in Co Down, where hundreds of bathers were also swimming.

The creature was believed to have swum in on a full tide before becoming stranded.

It was seen to swim round in circles before becoming trapped in a net.

Children had fled from the sea after being warned of the shark’s presence by police.

A local fisherman said that the carcass could fetch £5 if sold for fish meal.

Afterwards, this sum was to be donated to the Lifeboat Institution.