At least 21 species of sharks have been recorded in British coastal waters. In addition at least 12 species of Skates and Rays, one species of Stingray and 2 species of Electric Rays also live in the shallow seas surrounding Britain. Other species occur in deeper water.
The commonest inshore shark species of the N E Atlantic is the Lesser Spotted Dogfish, Scyliorhinus canicula, which rarely grows much longer than 1 metre in length. The egg case of this small shark is known as a Mermaid's Purse.
No fatal shark attacks have
been recorded in British coastal waters. There has been one unsuccessful
attack on a SCUBA divers.
11 March 2008
6:00 pm (arrive from 5:00 pm) - 7:30 pm
National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 OLF, UK. Shark Trust Annual Conference 2002
To subscribe to SHARK-L, send a message to
LISTSERV@UTC.EDU and put the following in the
body of the message:
SUBSCRIBE SHARK-L Your Name
New Millennium Shark & Ray News
(NE Atlantic Ocean)
on the image to find the web page with the
report appeared in the Sun newspaper when it was identified as the Great
Carcharodon carcharias, which is unknown
from British seas. This identification has not been ruled out. If
it is a Great White its occurrence in area where large numbers of larger
Basking Sharks have been seen may not be a coincidence. Great Whites could
prey on them. AH.
Rolf Williams (National Aquarium, Plymouth) went up to Padstow on to the boat and spoke to some of the observers - he considers the shark was 11 foot plus, so it was either a very large Porbeagle (possibly a Mako ?) or a Great White Shark. He thinks it is a 50/50 chance. Cornwall has enough Grey Seals to provide a dinner table for all the Great White Sharks in the East Atlantic. We were sent film of a Great White Sharks seen off Minehead by Westcountry TV. It was lovely footage of a Basking Shark.
Information provided by Doug Herdson.
The penultimate paragraph compiled by Doug Herdson"I also agree with Doug: seals & since whites are occasionally found in Biscay, its not beyond the realms of possibility. But having looked into similar reports in the past, I'm sceptical until real proof is found."
I have interviewed four of the crew who saw the 'Great White Shark'. Their identification is based only on size, colour, and estimated weight. None of the crucial distinguishing features were described and they did not express a knowledge of what to look for - most notably the white free rear tip on the first dorsal fin. I had a good look at the boat, a 28 footer, against which they judged size. The shark appeared 40 ft off and passed just 5 ft from the boat in a single glide at the surface. It was seen for about 45 seconds total. I believe that it is quite possible that the shark was a very large Porbeagle. The FAO species catalogue 1984 puts a possible maximum length for Porgies at 370 cm / 12 ft. The crew fish for porbeagles regularly but have not previously caught any close to this record size. I believe that an error of 3 ft could have been made in judging length, and that all the other features they described to me equally describe a Porbeagle. Off course we will never know, but I think it is probable that there is a monster Porbeagle off Padstow because there is no doubt that they saw a colossal shark. Since they regularly target this species with gear that can land such a shark, we may yet see this fellow again...?!
Record Weights (British seas):
Mako Isurus oxyrinchus
Porbeagle Lamna nasus
Reported in the Shoreham Herald.
[* One report said 2.2 metres, excluding the tail fin?]
Letter to Shoreham Herald
PS: On further examination the shark looks like a Porbeagle. AH 11/2/99.
Further investigation underway.
consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle.
Herdson, Marcus Goodsir, Andy Horton. 16/2/99.
Porbeagle landed in Guernsey on 10 March 1999. Sarah Fowler, Shark Trust.
The local fishermen know that large sharks live off the north-east of England, especially around Coquet Island, near Amble off the Northumberland coast. They are caught every year, but in 1998, more sharks and larger specimens were caught. Both the Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, and the Shortfin Mako Shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, were reported. Unfortunately these two sharks are often confused. On 13/14 August two Shortfin Mako Sharks (one about 5 metres long and the other larger) were caught in salmon nets about 3 miles south-east of Whitby, North Yorkshire. One of the sharks had 3 Lampreys Petromyzon marinus embedded in it. We have also received a September report of two Porbeagle Sharks estimated to weigh 190 kg (420 lb) and another larger one with an estimated weight of 363 kg (800 lb), as well as large sharks off the Tyne and one landed at Hartlepool. We have not been able to check the precise dates of these records, although the Mako reports came from the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, Rare Fish Records, kept by Doug Herdson.
Great White Mako
Report by Rae Atkins
Photographs by Rae Atkins
shark appears to be a Porbeagle Shark,
nasus. There is a population of this large predatory shark in the North
Sea. Their occurence may match the Salmon
on which they prey. Specimens washed up dead on the beach are unusual.
Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)16 November 1999
A female Porbeagle was landed at St. Peter Port harbour this afternoon (16/11/99 at 1300) by Richard Seager who was gill netting for Bass and Red Mullet near Hanois lighthouse on the south-west tip of Guernsey. The female was caught in the same location as a male Porbeagle caught a couple of weeks ago. The total length was 219 cm.
to tip of lower caudal lobe was 207.5 cm
The stomach contained one squid beak probably belonging to Loligo forbesi.
by Richard Lord (Guernsey).
Report on Vince Smith's One-List/Cornish WildlifeA Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was washed up on Gibraltar Point beach, near Skegness, Lincolnshire in November 1998. It was just over 2 metres long and was damaged by what looked like another shark bite. Although usually regarded as a southern shark, specimens have been reported before from off the north-east coast of England. including a specimen in shallow water earlier in the year.
Report by Andy Colls (Chesterfield)A Blue Shark was also washed up on the Dutch coast about the same time.
Oceanic White-tip Shark
Report and Identification by Kent Andersson
The Oceanic White-tip Shark is found worldwide in epipelagic tropical and subtropical waters between 20° North and 20° South latitude. Its range is from Portugal to the Gulf of Guinea in the eastern Atlantic. There are a few records from the Mediterranean Sea. It lives in sea temperatures above 21° C. It is usually found over deep water a long way from the shore. It is known to associate with Pilot Whales and may follow boats or ships if a constant food source is available. This shark has a reputation for attacking Man.
How could the shark have arrived in the fjord? The speculation could involves man's activities as a discard from a deep water fishing catch?
The largest Basking Shark
recorded in British seas was washed up on Brighton beach, Sussex, in 1806.
The weight was estimated at 8 tonnes, if the record is to be believed.
A Tope with an estimated weight in excess of 42 kg (93 lb) was caught by Margaret Tuckwell whilst fishing off Selsey Bill, Sussex, at a mark known as the Mixon Hole, which is popular with divers. This weight would have been a world record if the shark had been landed alive and weighed, but this specimen was returned to the sea, The current rod and line record of Galeorhinus galeus, is 37.4 kg (82 lb 8 oz) for a Tope caught off Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex, (southern North Sea) in 1991, with another large fish caught in the same area in 1986. Tope are not very common in the English Channel and most angled specimens are caught in the summer months. The sharks migrate in from more southerly seas. The Tope caught at Selsey was 198 cm long and 78 cm in girth.
The weight has since be revised to an estimate of 35 kg.
On 24 October 1994 angler Fred Oakley at Santa Monica California took a
98 lb 8 oz (44.67 kg) Tope, Galeorhinus galeus. Source is IGFA World record
fishes. - Tom
Capt. Tom's shark webpage
(Len Nevell, Sea Angling Report)25 August 1999
A Tope of 50 lb was caught off Minehead, Somerset, by Richard Hoddinott.
(Len Nevell, Sea Angling Report)Tope: Biological Notes by Len Nevell
Tope are on display in the large tank at Brighton Sea Life Centre.
Shark Attack Book
Shark & Ray Conference Report 1996 (BMLSS Scotland)
Shark Conference Report 1998
Skate & Tope Tagging in Scotland
Six-gilled Shark Hexanchus griseus
Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)EMail:email@example.com
A Blonde Ray, Raja brachyura, with the edible wings weighing in excess of 19 kg was captured in a trawl off Prawle Point, Devon. This was a very large specimen. The weight of the whole ray was estimated at 23 kg.
(Len Nevell, Sea Angling Report)I have a record on file of a specimen of a Blonde Ray weighed in at 16.6 kg (36 lb 8 oz) caught on rod and line from from Cork Harbour in September 1964. AH
Report by Witek Mojsiewicz (Aberdeen)30 May 1999
A small Electric Ray, Torpedo nobiliana, was caught by fisherman John Gillam off Brighton, Sussex. These fish are occasionally caught off the Sussex coast each year. What was unusual about this fish was that it was captured alive and put on display at Brighton Sea Life Centre.
August 1998. An Electric Ray, Torpedo nobiliana, was caught with some difficulty, because the powerful electric shocks transmitted up the line, by angler Steve Alnutt off Shoreham Beach, Sussex. It weighed 8 kg (18 lb) and was returned alive.
OE Ray = reohha, ruhha. The commercial fisheries name is Roker, and this is an alternative common name for the the Thornback Ray, Raja clavata.
The Marbled Electric Ray, Torpedo marmorata, is increasingly common around Guernsey. Commercial fishermen are catching them almost every week. The fishermen who caught the Eagle Ray told me he caught an electric ray yesterday but he wasn't certain which species it was (T. nobiliana or T. marmorata). Torpedo marmorata has been seen in breeding aggregations to the south of the Island of Sark in the Autumn.
marmorata appears to be much more common than T. nobiliana around
Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey) May 1999EMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
I recently interviewed a shore angler who had caught a 22 kg (46.5 lb) female Stingray Dasyatis pastinaca on the N.E England coast. While it was not measured properly, the angler estimated its DW at 1 metre (3 ft) and snout to tail stump also 1 metre. He was very interested to find out an age for the animal - does anyone have any ideas? The Stingray was caught in July or August 1998 which seems to be months in which they are most likely to be caught, when the sea is at its warmest.
Univ. of Warwick.
Public Aquaria Database
(Len Nevell, Sea Angling Report)Thresher Shark
Reportby Richard Lord (Guernsey)
on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
Reports by Richard Lord (Guernsey).
A male Thresher Shark, Alopia vulpinus, was landed at Plymouth. It was caught in a bottom set net off the south Devon coast. The length was given at 4.04 metres, but this may have included the long tail fin which is equal to the body length.
(Report from Doug Herdson, National Marine Aquarium at Plymouth.)February 1999
A 230 cm male Thresher Shark, Alopius vulpinus, was taken in midwater 16 miles SSW of Eddystone Rocks, south of Plymouth, Cornwall.
Thresher Sharks are occasional summer migrants to the English Channel.
Report by Philip Vas.Big-eyed Thresher Shark
Sharp-nosed Seven-gilled Shark
Shark reports not checked yet
by Philip VasField Studies Council Publications. Tel: 01743 850370.
Basking Sharks (Isle of Man, UK)
Basking Shark Fact Sheet (USA)
Inference Search Engine (good for sharks)
Shark Discovery CD-ROM is available.
EMail for the BMLSS
International Marine News
Egg Capsules of Rays & Sharks