This week is Shark Week, an annual week on the Discovery Channel that features shark programming and is used by many organisations as a way to highlight sharks and to show them in a more positive light, whilst putting a spotlight on the major issues facing them.
So this week I thought it would be apt to blog about these fascinating creatures. Sharks are of course famous for living in places like Australia and South Africa, but actually they are found all over the world, in the UK we have 21 resident species that are found around our coast. As it is shark week let’s have a look at 7 shark species that call the UK home!
1. Blue Shark
Blue sharks are one of the most widespread species on the planet, they are found in both tropical and temperate seas , including around the UK. They are recognisable by their vibrant colour and long slender body. This species can travel huge distances, and has been shown to make trans-Atlantic journeys.
2. Angular Roughshark
The angular roughshark is a prime example of how little we know about our oceans as a whole. This secretive species can live at a depth of 600 metres. It is a smaller shark, only around 1 metre long at most, and is known to feed on molluscs and crustaceans.
3. Thresher Shark
Growing to be around 6 metres long the thresher shark is characterised by it’s long tail. It can be found throughout the waters of the UK. The thresher shark use their long tail as a weapon, it thrashes the tail to stun, maim or kill it’s prey, it is the shark’s primary method of hunting.
4. Sharpnose Sevengill Shark
A strange looking shark, they are a streamlined, deep diving species. It is occasionally seen off the south coast of the UK. This shark is a generalist and a successful hunter known to feed on anything from cuttlefish to shrimp.
5. Smooth Hammerhead Shark
Yes that’s right, a hammerhead shark, in the UK! This shark has a broad range and in the UK is mostly found off the south coast. This shark can grow to a maximum 5 metres long. They have excellent hearing, good vision and a fantastic sense of smell, making it an ultimate predator.
6. Porbeagle Shark
Found around the British Isles, the porbeagle shark grows to around 2 metres in size. They are able to maintain their body temperature in such a way that they can be warmer than the water around them, this is slightly unusual for sharks and means it can live in a range of temperate regions.
7. Basking Shark
Probably the most well known shark species in the UK, the giant basking shark makes regular appearances around the UK in the summer. The best places to see this magnificent species is Cornwall and the Western Isles of Scotland. Basking sharks are the second largest fish species in the world, only beaten by the whale shark, they can reach a length of 10 metres. They certainly do not fit with the shark stereotype, they feed on mostly zooplankton, collecting it in their huge mouth and filtering it using gill rakers, they do not have large teeth like many other shark species. In the winter basking sharks have been shown to migrate offshore to deeper water, feeding on deep water plankton, during the winter months they travel large distances in search of food.