Oxford's famous shark has caused a few jaws to drop down the years.

But news that the 25ft fibre-glass landmark in New High Street, Headington, is about to celebrate its 21st birthday will certainly take many aback.

Few people would have guessed that the shark would survive 21 days when it appeared as a new addition to the city's skyline back in 1986.

This week, the shark was finally netted and covered in scaffolding, but only in preparation for its birthday celebrations.

For the sculpture is being specially cleaned up in advance of its coming of age.

The shark's sprucing is part of building work to renovate the front of the house.

Karl Naylor, of Oxford Spires Scaffolding, said: "It's certainly the first time that we have been asked to put a shark in debris netting - not what you would call run-of-the-mill scaffolding work.

"But it's proved quite an interesting job, having to provide the necessary support inside the house."

While the birthday will not have everyone in Headington singing from the roofs, it is bound to stir waves of nostalgia for Bill Heine, the BBC Radio Oxford presenter, who fought a long battle with Oxford City Council planners to make the shark a famous landmark.

More than 200 people turned up for a party he organised in August 1987 to celebrate the shark's first birthday.

The shark's big birthday falls on August 9.

Mr Heine said that as part of the planned celebrations, the well-known Oxfordshire sculptor, John Buckley, who created the shark, would be revisiting his big fish, which should be looking fresher than ever.