The five fishermen seemed set for a bumper pay-day when they hauled the giant fish – thought to have weighed up to 1300lb – on to their boat off the coast of Surigao.

But the superstitious crew were so horrified by their discovery that they kept only the fins and the jaw before hastily throwing their prize catch back into the sea along with the unidentified human remains.

“It was so disgusting we couldn’t bear the awful smell,” said fisherman Bodoy Gorgod, 48, talking to the local Minda News agency. “We feared that the human remains may bring bad luck to us, so we opted to drop to the sea the shark’s body and what’s inside its belly.

“I began fishing when I was 20 years old and I never found human remains inside a shark before.”

It is believed the body parts may have come from victims of a ferry disaster which took place nearby. The MV Maharlika sank in stormy waters near Leyte, in the central Philippines, in September. Two men remain unaccounted for out of the 84 passengers.

The fishermen sun-dried the jaw of the shark as a trophy of their catch. However, one wife, Perly Santillana, told Minda that she did not want it kept.

“I don’t want the sight of that jaw, knowing that the shark had eaten a human being, Who knows, the victim’s spirit might visit us.”

Tiger sharks can grow to around 16ft in length and are frequently killed for their flesh, fins and liver. They are classed as a ‘near threatened’ species.