A KEEN photographer has captured incredibly rare images of a thresher shark breaching in the Irish Sea.
Richard Lovelock, from Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, was on a cruise when he captured the incredible scenes at the tip of Wales last week.
The police sergeant managed to snap the exact moment the shark shot through the air.
Images show the mammal emerging from the deep blue sea and gliding through the air before diving back below.
Another stunning image shows the shark upright in the air with its pointed fins on full display.
The thresher shark passes through UK waters in the summer months and is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.
Wildlife campaigners state that sightings of the torpedo-shaped mammal breaching are rare.
Speaking today Lovelock, 50, said: “We were cruising to the Isles of Scilly on the Fred Olsen Borealis cruise ship and had left Liverpool the day before.
“We are avid whale and dolphin spotters and were at the front of the ship spotting alongside OrcaWeb charity representatives.
“We’d spotted whales and dolphins throughout the day, in fact around 650 common dolphin by this point in the afternoon.
“We’d earlier seen a breaching minke whale which had been an amazing experience and we were all pretty thrilled.
“I pointed at a large splash in the distance way ahead of us. I locked my camera onto the distant shot and we all thought we were watching another breaching minke whale.
“It jumped clear of the water three times in quick succession. I got some shot’s off and on review immediately realised we had just seen a very rare Thresher shark breach.
“None of us had ever seen a shark breach before. We were ecstatic.”
Lovelock posted his images on Facebook on Wednesday morning, captioned: “Sharks don’t jump out the water.
“Well this thresher shark did last night as we cruised past the tip of Wales in the Irish Sea. Super rare sighting!”
Social media users were blown away by the incredible sight as it collected more than 250 likes and comments from impressed viewers.
Simon Glaisyer said: “Oh my! A thresher shark! You lucky thing!”
Carla Chaplin said: “Wow you’re lucky you managed to get a photo. Stunning.”
Karen Morgan said: “Special things happen in Wales, Richard! Great photo.”
And Helen Wittenmyer added: “You were in the right place at the right time!”
Although some video footage has been captured of thresher sharks breaching in the past, reports of leaping threshers are rare.
Earth Touch News Network states that most sightings of thresher sharks breaching are usually them trying to free themselves from fishing lines.