Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 18:45 UK

Shark 'dumped' on Australia paper

Port Jackson shark (SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)
The Port Jackson shark is a common species on Australia's south coast

Police in Australia say they are "dumbfounded" by the dumping of a live shark on the doorstep of a newspaper in Victoria state.

The two-foot (60cm) creature was found lying at the front door of The Standard in Warrnambool city under cover of darkness after midnight on Wednesday.

The fish - a Port Jackson shark - was said to be relatively harmless.

Police released it into the harbour after carrying it in a bucket of water borrowed from a McDonald's restaurant.

Police said the juvenile Port Jackson shark - a common species on Australia's south coast - was spotted in the early hours of Thursday by a man leaving the fast-food restaurant, located next door to the offices of The Standard.

'Still breathing'

"We arrived and poured some water on it just to see if it was still breathing and it kicked around for a little while," Constable Jarrod Dwyer told state radio.

We've had some strange things in the van before, but never a shark
Acting Sgt Greg Cresell

He said the newspaper had no idea why anyone would leave the shark there to die.

"They had no ideas of any person that wished them any harm or wished to send them any type of message, so we're a little dumbfounded," he said.

Port Jackson sharks can grow up to 1.6m long (5.5 ft). They typically feed on crustaceans, sea urchins and fish.

Constable Dwyer's partner, Acting Sgt Greg Cresell, told the Warrnambool Standard that it was one of the most bizarre incidents he had come across in his time as a police officer.

"We've had some strange things in the van before, but never a shark," he said.

A fisheries official told the paper that the sharks were harmless, except for two venomous dorsal spines.

Authorities have vowed to charge the offenders with animal cruelty, if they find those responsible for dumping the shark.

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