Its 14th July 2020 and it’s shark awareness day! You might think of sharks as giant, blood thirsty killers of the tropics and the silver screen but did you know there are over 40 species in British waters!
Over half of them live here all year round, though you are highly unlikey to ever come across any of them when your out for a paddle. But you might find evidence of small-spotted catsharks or Nursehounds, also known as greater-spotted dog fish. These sharks lay eggs that sometimes get washed up on shore, sometimes called mermaids purses.
There are also at least 11 species of deep-water sharks Including the Portuguese Dogfish, Black Dogfish, Kitefin Shark and Gulper Shark.
Tragically scientist consider over 50% of British sharks to be threatened or near threatened. This includes the once common Angel shark which is now rarely seen and is listed as critically endangered!
In 2008 the Shark Trust helped to get domestic protections for the Angel shark and they are now some of the most heavily protected sharks in the Northeast Atlantic.
To find out more about the work the Shark Trust does with Angel sharks check out the link below.
Between May and October, when the weather is usually warmer, you could be lucky enough to see the second largest fish in the world, the Basking shark which filter feeds on tiny plankton likes to bask in the sun, hence the name. These gentle giants can grow up to 12 meters long, second only to the Whale shark; and weighs as much as 6 tonnes. The North East Atlantic population is classed as Endangered and are protected in the UK under the wildlife and countryside act.
Another seasonal visitor is the short fin Mako, the fastest shark on record, they can reach 30 mph, allowing it to catch fast prey like tuna and sword fish.
Sightings of sharks in British waters should a cause for celebration, not alarm.
Back in 2015 at the RSPB site at Medmerry, just up the road, in Chichester, hundreds of Starry Smooth-hound sharks up to 1.5 meters long were seen gathered together in the shallow waters to feed on crabs.
There are so many amazing species right on our door step and many of them really need our help. Check out the shark trust website to see how you can get involved or just find out more about the sharks and rays and British waters.