Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Tuesday, 3 August 2010 10:39 UK
Blackpool Sea Life shark diver's animal magnetism
Martin and Betty the bowmouth shark
Love at first bite? Martin and Betty the bowmouth shark

Blackpool man Martin Sutcliffe has a certain animal magnetism when it comes to attracting the ladies.

Trouble is, the lady he's attracting is a seven-foot shark who likes to nibble his head.

Martin, who works at Blackpool Sea Life Centre, has been singled out from the four regular divers by Betty the bowmouth shark.

He loves diving with the sharks so much though, that he's willing to put up with Betty's enthusiastic attention.

"She only nibbles rather than bites," he says. "But her teeth are so strong it feels like hard scratching, and it's impossible to ignore."

Colleagues think they've worked out why Betty is so attracted to Martin, and it's not because he looks good in a wetsuit.

Rows of teeth

Martin Sutcliffe
"It's impossible to ignore," says Martin about being nibbled

Sharks are sensitive to the tiniest bit of magnetism and Martin has a metal pin in his arm.

"Sharks have pores dotted around their snouts called 'ampullae of Lorenzini' that can detect an electric impulse as tiny as one billionth of a volt," explains displays supervisor Carey Duckhouse.

"Bowmouth sharks home in on such impulses to find prey hidden beneath the seabed, so are probably more sensitive to them than most other species.

"We're convinced that magnetic particles in the pin in Martin's arm are causing little electrical discharges that only Betty can detect, and which she finds irresistible.

"Martin tries his best to get through a demonstration of diving gear and techniques, but has to constantly fend off Betty who swims up and nibbles his head."

A native of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Betty looks like a cross between a shark and a ray and could reach nearly nine feet long when fully grown.

And it's not surprising Martin is wary of her affection, she has 47 rows of teeth in her upper jaw and 50 in the lower.

Sunken plane is a diver's dream
30 Mar 10 |  People & Places
In pictures: Blackpool's sharks
17 Mar 10 |  Nature & Outdoors



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific