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  • Sharks

    General


    New shark species are being discovered annually, however at the moment there are an estimated 400 species in existence. Only 12 of these species are considered dangerous to humans, and not all sharks are carnivorous.



    Sighting


    There are 28 species of sharks in UK waters, including the following:


    Just some of the locations where sharks can be found are: Angelsey, Barmouth, Bideford, Bucklers Hard, Falmouth, Isle of Scilly, Isle of Wight, Jersey, Kilchoan, Littlehampton, Luce Bay, Lymington, Lyme Bay, Minehead, Newquay, Milford Haven, Penarth, Poole, Portdinorwic, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Rhyl, Southend on Sea, Wash Area, Weymouth



    Species


    Basking

    • Scientific Name: Cetorhinus maximus.
    • Size: Up to 11 metres feet in length, and weigh up to 7 tonnes. Largest fish in UK waters, second largest fish in the world.
    • Location: Temperate waters. In the UK, usually in surface waters April to September, and mostly in coastal areas.
    • Description: Varying colour, from dark to light grey, mottled on the back, lighter underneath. Large mouth and gill slits. Visible dorsal fin, tail and snout as it swims along.
    • Feeding: Plankton.

    Blackmouth Catshark

    • Scientific Name: Galeus melastomus.
    • Location: Usually depths of 200 to 500 metres.
    • Description: Also known as Blackmouth Dogfish. Grey to dark brown upper body and sides, with blotches and circular spots. The inside of the mouth is black.
    • Feeding: Crabs, prawns, shrimps, squat lobsters, small fish.

    Blue

    • Scientific Name: Prionace glauca.
    • Location: Surface lowers down to about 350 metres. It prefers cooler water. Comes to UK shores in the summer months.
    • Description: Upper body is blue, with a white underbelly. Long pectoral fins, long conical snout.
    • Feeding: Cephalopods and various fish such as Mackerel, Herring, Pilchards.
    • Lifespan: Up to at least 20 years.

    Bull Huss

    • Scientific Name: Scyliorhinus stellaris.
    • Location: Shallow water, down to a depth of more than 120 metres. Likes rough ground and rocks, where it can blend in well.
    • Description: Also known as Greater Spotted Dogfish. Pale or dark brown mottled upper and underside of the body, although the underside tends to be paler. Covered with black (sometimes white) spots.
    • Feeding: Crustaceans, molluscs, fish, cephalopods

    Lesser Spotted Catshark

    • Scientific Name: Scyliorhinus canicula.
    • Location: Often found in shallow water, but can also be found at over 100 metres deep. Bottom dweller that likes sandy, mud and gravel sea beds.
    • Description: Also known as dogfish. Upper body often light brown with darker spots. Some sharks will be darker. Can sometimes have a few white spots.
    • Feeding: Mostly crabs, molluscs, shrimps, small fish, squid.

    Porbeagle

    • Scientific Name: Lamna nasus.
    • Location: Prefers colder water. Found from surface layers down. Can be seen close to shore, and inhabits wrecks and reefs.
    • Description: Also known as Porgie, Mackerel Shark. White underside, with a dark grey to blue upper body. Stout and spindle-shaped body, conical snout, narrow teeth, and large black eyes.
    • Feeding: Various fish, cephalopods, small sharks.

    Spurdog

    • Scientific Name: Squalus acanthias.
    • Location: Mostly mid-water, down to 900 metres depth. Highly migratory.
    • Description: Also known as Piked Dogfish. Dark grey or black upper body, often with white spots. White underside. Both dorsal fins have a spine in the front.
    • Behaviour: Can be found in large packs.
    • Feeding: Mostly fish, also crustaceans and cephalopods.
    • Lifespan: Possibly up to 70 years.

    Thresher

    • Scientific Name: Alopias vulpinus.
    • Size: Up to 10.5 feet in length.
    • Location: Coastal and oceanic waters, from the surface, to a depth of 500 metres.
    • Description: Whiter underneath, and a dark brown to grey upper body. The elongated tail is the same length as the main body of the shark.
    • Feeding: Fish such as Mackerel and Herring, Squid

    Tope

    • Scientific Name: Galeorhinus galeus.
    • Size: Largest native inshore shark in the UK.
    • Location: Mostly shallow waters around the UK, on sandy bottoms or down to a depth of 450 metres.
    • Description: White underside, and a grey to brown upper body. It has a translucent snout.
    • Feeding: Fish, often gadoids (cod family), flatfish, and also crustaceans.