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Sharks & Rays

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 diver. 

11 March 2008
6:00 pm (arrive from 5:00 pm) - 7:30 pm

Shark Biology and Conservation
Scientific Seminar,
Venue:  Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London
Free admission for the talks
Booking in advance only for the dinner
Contact: Joy Hayward

Zoological Society of London Scientific Meetings

European Elasmobranch Association

The European Elasmobranch Association, Shark Trust, National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 OLF, UK.

European Elasmobranch Society (Shark Trust) 

Shark Trust Annual Conference 2002 
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New Millennium Shark & Ray News
(NE Atlantic Ocean)

Sting Ray

Click on the image to find the web page with the 
latest Shark News

NEWS 2004

News:  Thresher Shark land at Plymouth

Huge Sharks

September 2015

False Catshark
Scottish Tagging Programme Image

A deep water species of shark was caught in Scottish seas by scientist from Marine Scotland. The False Catshark sometimes known as a Sofa Shark, Psuedotrakias microdon, is the 72nd species of elasmobranch recorded from around Scotland. The 2 metre long 60 kg shark was caught close to the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides. This bottom dwelling shark would be normally be expected to live at depths of 1000 metres or more. 

Scottish Shark Tagging Report
Scottish Shark Tagging Programme  facebook

20 October 2013
A deep water Greenland Shark, Somniosus microcephalus, was found freshly dead stranded at Embleton Bay in Northumberland. The three metres long female shark was recovered by staff of Newcastle University and held frozen at their Dove Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats. The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) retrieved the shark whilst carrying out demonstration necropsies for undergraduates at Newcastle University and transported it to the Natural History Museum in London, who have (Autumn 2014) completed preparing the shark as a specimen for the national collectionThis large species of shark (> 7 metres & 1,400 kg) is usually found at depths of 1000 metres in the Arctic and boreal Atlantic and is both rarely recorded around the British Isles and relatively little is known of it biology and bionomics. 

Report with Images on CSIP- UK Strandings facebook

5 December 2014
A two metres long Shortfin Mako Shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, was washed ashore dead on the vast sandy shore at Barmouth, Cardigan Bay, west Wales. 

BBC News Report with Images

Barmouth Shark
Photograph by Harry Allday

Identification of the the Mako and Porbeagle, Lamna nasus, is difficult and I determined it to be the rarer Mako from the shape of the first dorsal fin lacking a white patch. It is difficult because of the pointed snout and position of the secondary dorsal fin I first thought it was a Porbeagle. Teeth may indicate a Porbeagle?
Porbeagle & Mako ID

Barmouth Shark Dorsal Fin
Photograph by Paul Johnson

Shark, Head and Teeth
Photograph on the flickr gallery hosted by Hugh Griffith Roberts

The dismembered remains of a recently ingested Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena, were found within the stomach of the 2.67 metre female Mako Shark

Picture Credits: CSIP-MEM

UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP)

18 July 2013
A large streamlined Shortfin Mako Shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, was hooked by Andy Griffith 30 miles off Milford Haven, SW Wales. This dangerous shark leapt three metres into the air off the stern of the boat before Andy with the help of his crew mates managed to land the two metres long shark after a fight lasting 40 minutes. Great care was taken to ensure the safety of angler and crew as large specimens of this shark have been identified in fatal attacks on humans. The 90 kg shark was landed and then released. This is the first record off the Welsh coast. 
(NB: this fish is very similar to the more often encountered Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus. The ID is usually confirmed by the teeth.

BBC News Report (with a photograph)
BMLSS Sharks

26 August 1999
Fishermen (6 witnesses) from Cornwall report a large predatory shark off Padstow, Cornwall, with a length reported of 3.6 metres (11 ft). If allowances are made for exaggeration, it could be a Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, that attains a length of 3 metres, or a Shortfin Mako, Isurus oxyrinchus, which could reach a length of nearly 4 metres. The Mako is a dangerous shark although attacks on humans are rare, virtually non-existent. Occurrences of the warm water Mako in British seas are usually recorded in August and are rare, although they are occasionally caught in commercial nets. 

Could it be a Great White Shark?

The report appeared in the Sun newspaper when it was identified as the Great White Shark, 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.
The temperature of the sea off Cornwall is estimated to be about 18° C in August. Great Whites occur regularly in the Mediterranean Sea where the winter sea temperatures are likely to fall to 13° C (Naples) so that the usual reason of temperature intolerance is not the most likely reason for its absence around the British Isles in summer.  My guess would be the availability of prey on a regular basis whilst the sea temperature is warm enough is the reason for its absence. If it is a Great White its occurrence could be associated with the huge numbers of Basking Sharks in the last 2 years. The same reasons could apply for the appearance of Mako Sharks. 
Sea Temperature Chart
The Cornish sea temperatures will only exceed 13° C from June until October. Warm water fish and sharks will have to return south to deeper seas or die. 
The newspapers have shown pictures of Basking Sharks, which are known to be prevalent this year. 

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."
Philip Vas 

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...?!


Rolf Williams
Interpretation Officer. (National Aquarium, Plymouth)

Record Weights (British seas):

  Shark, Mako   Isurus oxyrinchus
      Boat  500 lb -00-00  Eddystone, Devon           J M Yallop     1971
      Metric  227 kg 
      Shore 40-00-00  Vacant Qualifying weight

  Shark, Porbeagle  Lamna nasus
      Boat   507 lb -00-00  Dunnet Head, Scotland      C Bennett      1993
      Metric  230 kg   (World Record)
      Shore   40-00-00  Vacant Qualifying weight

Great White Shark Links

Sussex Porbeagle

1 February 1999
A three metres* long Mako Shark, Isurus  oxyrinchus, (the consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle) was caught three miles off Brighton by cod fishermen and brought into Monteum Fish Market at nearby Shoreham-by-Sea. The shark weighed 172 kg (378 lb). The largest shark normally caught in Sussex seas is the Tope, Galeorhinus galeus, and then only occasionally. Rarely Porbeagle Sharks, Lamna nasus, have even been caught, but this is my first report of a Mako.

Reported in the Shoreham Herald.

[* One report said 2.2 metres, excluding the tail fin?]
Shark Page
Letter to Shoreham Herald
PS: On further examination the shark looks like a Porbeagle.  AH  11/2/99.
Further investigation underway.

The consensus now seems that it is a Porbeagle. Doug Herdson, Marcus Goodsir, Andy Horton. 16/2/99.
I have now seen the colour photograph and this clearly indicates a Porbeagle.  AH.
5 Porbeagles landed at the fish market in Plymouth from September 1998 to February 1999, the largest being a female of 243 cm (115 kg). Doug Herdson.

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

Porbeagle Sharks

9 November 2015
A two metre long Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, washed up dead on Cullen Bay, north-east Scotland.

News Report with Image
18 October 2015
A two metre long Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, was the unfortunate victim of a net and was washed ashore dead on Chesil Beach. The body of the shark was returned to sea, as commercial fishermen in the EU are prohibited from landing Porbeagle Sharks.
Report & Image on Chesil Beach Watch
24 August 2012
A Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, is discovered dead on the sand of Filey Beach, Yorkshire.
Twitter Message & Image

23 May 2012
An exceptionally large Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, was caught on road and line by Wayne Comben and Graeme Pullen and released 300 metres off Boscastle, north Cornwall. It was measured at about 10 ft (3 metres) long with a girth of about 2 ft (60 cm) which experts think was likely to be a pregnant female with an estimated weight of 550 lb (250 kg) and this would have exceeded the previously largest shark caught by an angler in British seas beating the previous 1993 world angling record for the species of 230 kg. The shark towed the small boat for a mile before it was hauled alongside. Even if it was possible to land the fish on to the boat, the Porbeagle is now a protected species under European Union (European Commission on Fisheries) legislation. 

Daily Mail News Report with Video

7 November 2011
The European Union (European Commission on Fisheries)  officially extended measures to protect threatened Porbeagle Sharks, Lamna nasus, from fishing. Under the amended Regulation, fishing for porbeagles is now prohibited in all EU waters, including the Mediterranean Sea, and by EU vessels fishing in international waters. In addition, if porbeagles are caught accidentally, they must now be released immediately.

Report from Fish News EU
CITES Protection Vote 2010

28 July 2011
A female Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus, with a reported weight of nearly 300 lb (136 kg) was caught by Don McCloskey on rod and line off Fanad Head, Donegal, Northern Ireland. (No measurements of the shark were included in the report.)

Donegal News Report (with photographs)
BMLSS Porbeagle Sharks

July 2004
We discovered a 1.93 metres (6 ft 4 in) long fresh shark washed up dead on the beach between Hornsea and Mappleton on the Yorkshire North East coast.

Report by Rae Atkins

Photograph by Rae Atkins Photograph by Rae Atkins

Photographs by Rae Atkins

This shark appears to be a Porbeagle Shark, Lamna nasus. There is a population of this large predatory shark in the North Sea. Their occurrence may match the Salmon on which they prey. Specimens washed up dead on the beach are unusual. 
BMLSS Sharks

30 June 2000
Large Porbeagle Sharks have been spotted cruising by the south west Casquets bank north of Guernsey, Channel Islands, leisurely robbing long-lines set for Bass by biting the fish in half, with gapes of about 12 cm in the prey.

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.

27 October 1999
A gill net fisherman accidentally caught a juvenile porbeagle off Guernsey's West Coast on Wednesday, October 27.  The female porbeagle died in the net, which was in the sea for two days. The net couldn't be recovered earlier because of bad weather.  The porbeagle had a total weight of 15 kg (33 lb.) weighed on scale. The fisherman estimated its length (on the telephone to me) at 120 cm.   He caught it in 25 metres of water near rocks called Les Grunes de Nord-Ouest (about 49° 30' N and 2° 38' W)  The fisherman reported that the shark's stomach was empty but it was going for a netted Pollack (Pollachius pollachius). I understand the shark made a bit of a mess of the net.

May 1999
The fishermen also recounted an interesting story to me that occurred in May of this year.  He said he was fishing about 2 miles off Guernsey's west coast in about 35 to 40 metres of water.  His boat was surrounded by seagulls.  One of them was sitting on the water. He saw a shark rise just over a metre (3 or 4 feet) out of the water and take the seagull in his mouth.  He then gently swam away. He thinks the shark was a Porbeagle but he cannot be sure.

10 March 1999
A 103 kg (total weight) female Porbeagle Shark was landed at St. Peter Port Harbour, Guernsey.
It was caught in a monofilament gill net off the south-west Coast of Guernsey in about 60 feet of water.  The gill net was set for Sea Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax.  The net was about 300 yards long and 30 feet deep.
The Porbeagle was wrapped in the net and dead when brought aboard.

Length to tip of lower caudal lobe was 207.5 cm
Fork length was 192 cm.
Snout to origin of first dorsal fin was 72.5 cm
Origin of D1 to origin of D2 was 85 cm
Body depth at origin of D1 was about 44 cm.
Gutted weight was 87.7 kg. (heart removed too)
Liver weighed 9.90 kg.
Heart weighed 0.35 kg.
Ovaries (no embryos) weighed 0.55 kg.
Stomach and spiral value weighed 2.85 kg.
(Lots of blood in the coelom)

The stomach contained one squid beak probably belonging to Loligo forbesi.

Reports by Richard Lord (Guernsey).

Porbeagle Shark (from Newlyn, May 1999)
Porbeagle Shark (Guernsey 1999)

31 November 2003
A Cornish long-line fishermen has caught a total 115 Porbeagle Sharks, Lamna nasus, on two long-line fishery trips to their feeding grounds off Cornwall. The largest one weighed 60 kg (132 lb), but is unclear if this was the weight before on after it was gutted. It was two metres long, probably including the tail fin. These look like a pre breeding stock of Porbeagles with females that do not attain maturity until they are two metres in length. This mass capture has raised the ire of environmentalists as the large species of sharks and even some of smaller species like the Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, are vulnerable to excessive fishing. In the 1960s the Newfoundland fishery for Porbeagle was seriously overfished as ceased as a commercial activity. Hundreds of Porbeagle Sharks are caught off northern France each year. 

BBC News Report
Shark Trust Conference Report

Blue Shark

2 August 2017
A record breaking three metre long Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was caught by angler John Dines off the coast of Penzance, Cornwall.  Weighing in at 116 kg, it was a new British record (beating the previous 58-year record of 214 lb = 97 kg). The shark was returned alive to the English Channel.

 Evening Standard News Report (with Image)
 4 January 2012
A two metre long Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was washed up alive on to the beach at West Bay, Dorset, and hauled back into the water by Jeannette Longley, but it was found dead on the shore at Burton Bradstock shortly afterwards. 
Dorset Echo Report (with photograph)

23 October 2011
A Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was washed up on Camber Sands, East Sussex. This species is rarely this far east up the English Channel. 

RX Wildlife Marine Report (with photograph)
5 September 2011
A pregnant female Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, was washed up on at Barvas on the west side of the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Western Isles, Scotland.
BBC News Report
15 February 2011
A Blue Shark, Prionace glauca, made a surprise appearance in St. Helier Marina, Jersey.
Report & Photograph by Nicolas Jouault on Facebook (BMLSS)

12 August 2000
The sleek lines of 4 Blue Sharks, Prionace glauca, were seen 7 miles off the Bishop's Rock, off the westernmost tip of Cornwall. Fish is thrown overboard to attract Wilson's Petrels and other sea birds and the sharks arrive. 

Report on Vince Smith's One-List/Cornish Wildlife

A 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.
                                        Report by Erick Staal
Crocodile Shark

February 2017

Crocodile Shark

An extraordinary find of a small shark with sharp spiny teeth was washed ashore dead at Hope Cove, south Devon, south-east of Plymouth. The discovery on the sand and rock beach by Steven Greenfields, puzzled the experts at first as it was not on the list of sharks ever discovered in British seas before. However, it had some rather distinctive features including a white patch forward of its long gill slits, and with its distinctive teeth and shape of the caudal fin, there could really be no doubt it was the first ever British record of the Crocodile Shark, Pseudocarcharias kamoharai. This shark is an inhabitant of much warmer tropical seas, oceanic over deep waters to depths of 590 metres, rising to 200 meters or less at night, and in all tropical oceans but not a common species and classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN List. It's nearest natural habitat is the Canary Islands region. It is a puzzle of how it arrived as the sea temperature is thought to be too cold (usually limited to a low of 20°C) for it to have swam all the way. 

Notification by James Wright on British Marine Life Study Society facebook
ID by Marc Dando
Devon Live Report
Shark Trust
National Marine Aquarium
Oceanic Sharks on the IUCN Red List

Oceanic White-tip Shark

29 September 2004
One of the most extraordinary shark tales involved the discovery of a tropical Oceanic White-tip Shark, Carcharhinus longimanus, that had badly lost its way and was discovered swimming around a warship in a brackish water fjord near Gullmarsfjorden in west Sweden. It died shortly afterwards. The shark, a male, was 230 cm long, (total length), and weighed 65.65 kg. This is the first record in northern European seas and it has never been discovered around the British coast. A Swedish Museum in Gothenburg has now the shark for further examination. 

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? 

Further Information
Fishbase entry

Smalltooth Sandtiger Shark

13 August 2012
An unusual report was received of a tropical Smalltooth Sandtiger Shark, Odontaspis ferox*, washed up on the southern coast the English Channel (la Manche) and found alive on the sandy shore at Agon-Coutainville on the Cherbourg Peninsula (west coast). (So extraordinary was this report that I did not include it until the identity of the fish could be verified.) The 2.5 metre long shark, weighing in excess of 200 kg was pushed back into the sea and was not recovered for identification. 
(*probable ID only, not verified.) 
Smalltooth Sandtiger Sharks have been caught at widely scattered locations throughout the world, indicating a possibly circumtropical distribution. In the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it is known from the Bay of Biscay south to Morocco, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Azores, and the Canary Islands.

Discusssion on the Marine Wildlife of the NE Yahoo Group

Ouest France Report

Angel Shark

Angel Shark Conservation Network

23 June 2016
A large 20 kg Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, was caught by angler Steve Denning (from Magor, south Wales) off in the Bristol Channel off Cardiff Bay just out from Aberthaw Power Station in South Wales. It was weighed and returned alive.

Bristol Channel Fishing Special Illustrated Report
16 August 2015

Angel Shark
about to be returned to the sea
Photographs by Michael Griffiths

A large two metre long (including the long tail) Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, was caught by Michael Griffiths on road and line off Shell Island, north Wales. This very rare and protected shark is thought to be extinct in the English Channel and still extremely rare in Cardigan Bay.

Michael Griffiths Total Sea Fishing Report

20 March 2015
A small Angel Shark, Squatina squatina, was a rare capture off Douglas, Isle of Man. 

Report by Grant Lopes on Fishing News facebook

Angel Shark
Photograph by Grant Lopes

This large stocky angel shark was formerly a common and important demersal predator over large areas of its coastal and outer continental shelf sediment habitat in the North-east Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas. It now appears to be absent from the English Channel where it was caught back in 1969
This protected shark is classified as "Critically Endangered". 
Red List entry
OSPAR Assessment
MarLIN Records
Shark Trust Factsheet

30 July 2010
The now extremely rare Angel Shark (or Monkfish), Squatina squatina, was accidentally caught off Porthcawl (Wales) in the Bristol Channel. It weighed 16.7 kg and its length was 123 cm including the long tail. The shark was collected by the Natural History Museum for research purposes.

Natural History Museum Report

In 2008, the Angel Shark received full legal protection from human activities in the waters off England and Wales from the coast to a distance of 11 km (6.8 miles), under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act. The United Kingdom and Belgium have pushed, unsuccessfully, for this species to be listed on the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) Priority List of Threatened and Endangered Species.


20 October 2012
An albino Nursehound, Scyliorhinus stellaris, was caught by angler Tojo from a boat out of Holyhead, Anglesey. The unusual white shark was returned to the sea. 


Report & Image in Shark Year Magazine


Capt. Tom's Guide to New England Sharks, USA

Basking Shark

Family: Cetorhinidae

Basking Shark News Item 1998, Cetorhinus maximus. . 
Basking Shark Reports, 1998, 1999.
Basking Sharks (more) 

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. AH.

Link to the Basking Shark First web page

9 July 1999 
Proposal to include the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
DETR  http://www.wildlife-countryside.detr.gov.uk/gwd/shark/Index.htm

A Large Predatory Shark

January 1998:
A large shark of over 5 metres long (16 ft) long was seen in Sandsound Voe on the western coast of the Shetland Isles attacking seals, which are attracted by the salmon in the cages. The shark was estimated to weigh 500 kg. The species was not identified. Species of shark in British seas that reach this size include the Greenland Shark, Somniosus microcephalus, which will attain lengths of over 6 metres and is known to attack seals on occasions. This shark is a northern species which is not often recorded off the coast of Scotland. Both Philip Vas and Len Nevell have suggested it could be a Six-gilled Shark, Hexanchus griseus
Six-gilled Shark Page 2


Galeorhinus galeus

June 1997.
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

Large Tope from Sussex, 1982

22 September 1999
A large Tope, Galeorhinus galeus, weighing  between 38 and 40 kg (85 to 90 lb), was tagged and released off the Isles of Mull, Scotland, not knowing that it was a new record weight for the species.
This weight may be overestimated. A figure of 25 kg (55 lb) seems about right. 

(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-gill Shark

Six-gilled Shark   Hexanchus griseus

Len Nevell EMail


Flapper Skate, Dipturus intermedia, (=Diptrus batis*

* In 2009, research showed what was formerly listed as a single species, Dipturus batis, should be instead classified as two separate species, Dipturus flossada, and the Flapper Skate, Dipturus intermedia

Dipturus (=Raja) batis

Report 2012

Egg cases

More Information

Eagle Ray

4 May 1999
A 2779 gram (2.779 kg.) female Eagle Ray, Myliobatis aquila, was caught by trawl  in 15 metres of water at about 2000 hours on Schole bank, off Guernsey, Channel Islands, English Channel.  The bank is composed of broken shell and sand.
The Eagle Ray was caught with blonde rays, brill and a few lesser spotted dogfish.
The Eagle Ray had a wing span of 585 mm and a total length of 956 mm. The body length (tip of snout to origin of tail) was 330 mm.
The stomach and spiral valve contained two small squat lobsters, one hermit crab, and pieces of scallop shell.  The liver weighed 150 grams and the ray weighed 2384 grams gutted.

Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)

Blonde Ray

August 1997.
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. 

22 September 1999
A Blonde Ray of 14 kg (30lb) caught off  East Ferry, Cork, Eire, by Norman Dunlop.

(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 

Cuckoo Ray Report 2002

Electric Ray

17 July 2000
An Electric Ray,Torpedo nobiliana, was caught, whilst fishing for Nephrops (Scampi), 8 miles north of Lossiemouth, Moray Firth, NW Scotland, by the Banff registered vessel "Charisma". The ray immediately made one of the crew aware of it by giving him an electric shock. It has found a temporary home in the MacDuff Public Aquarium but it is not on public display because of the danger to the public in their open ray tank. It will be returned to sea. This species is the commoner of the two species of Electric Ray found around Britain (the other one is the Marbled Electric Ray, Torpedo marmorata) and both are generally southern species and are much rarer further north. This species is one that divers should be warned not to touch, if they spot a ray swimming in mid-water. Most records from British seas are in the summer and autumn. 

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.

Marbled Electric Ray

15 October 2010
Gary Crane received a shock when he landed a 4.95 kg (10 lb 14 oz 11 dram)  female Marbled Electric Ray, Torpedo marmorata, on Richard Seager’s ‘Out of Blue‘, while fishing about three miles to the east of Sark, Channel Islands.  The electric ray had a total length of 58.6 cm and a disc width of 41.5 cm.  The electric ray took a whole Black Bream, Spondyliosoma cantharus, presented as bait.  This specimen represents the largest Marbled Electric Ray caught by an angler in British waters.

Report (including a photograph) by Richard Lord
Sealord Photography
on Sustainable Guernsey
BMLSS Sharks & Rays
BMLSS Angling Records Links page
BMLSS Sharks & Ray News

June 2008
A rare female Marbled Electric Ray, Torpedomarmorata, was captured in a trawl net by Worthing fisherman Brian Davey about eight miles off Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. The ray which was about 60 cm long and can deliver a 220 volt electric shock. It was kept alive found a home at Brighton Sea Life Centre

Shoreham Herald News Report

This is the rarer of the two electric rays recorded in British seas and is extremely rare off Sussex. This fish can grow up to 60 cm in length. It is not known to breed in British seas and fish are likely to have migrated up the English Channel in summer.
Sussex Rare Fishes
Sussex Marine Life Reports 2008
BMLSS News Reports Spring 2008

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.

Torpedo marmorata appears to be much more common than T. nobiliana around
the Bailiwick of Guernsey.  The inshore gill netters catch them during the winter and
trawlers seem to get them on the banks during the summer months.

Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey) May 1999 

Marbled Electric Ray (Sussex)


18 October 2009
A recreational angler caught a 26.76 kg  (59 lb exactly) female Stingray, Dasyatis pastinaca, in shallow water near Vermerette off the west coast of the island of Herm, Channel Islands, (about 400 metres from Herm harbour) from a boat. The ray had a total length of 124 cm and a disc width of 76 cm. 

The stomach of the fish contained about 20 well digested Sandeels and some small shrimps (it is a bottom feeder.) The liver weighed 4859 grams (10.7 lb). This ray would have broken the British record of the fish had been caught from the shore. 

Report and Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Sealord Photography

BMLSS Angling Records Links page

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. 

Alec Moore
Univ. of Warwick
Stingrays have been raised to adults in captivity by the Sea Life Centres in Britain and the adults have produced their own young.
Public Aquaria Database

15 September 1999
A Stingray of 35 lb was caught off Poole, Dorset by Mark Butler.

(Len Nevell, Sea Angling Report)
Cuckoo Ray

Leucoraja naevus

November 2015

About 45cm long, found on Dornoch beach, Moray Firth
Photograph by Robyn Shilland
 St. Helen's Beach, Rosslare Harbour
Photograph by Larry Dunne


Thresher Shark

31 July 2016
Anglers caught a huge Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, estimated from measurements to weigh 167 kg (368 lb), from a boat off the coast of Cornwall.

BBC News Report
19 July 2015
A Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, with a measured weight of 123 kg (271 lb) was caught on road and line by Dai Pig off Milford Haven and the measurements made it the largest recorded Thresher Shark angled off Wales. It was returned to the sea.
World Sea Fishing Report

16 July 2015
A Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, with a measured weight of 115 kg (253 lb) (The shark measured 1.95 m from nose to tail fork and 3.35 m to the tip of the tail with a girth of 1.065 m.) was caught on road of line out of Milford Haven. The shark was returned to the sea. This was a new Welsh angling record. 

World Sea Fishing Report

4 August 2012
In living memory the Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, was if not a regular sighting off the Sussex coast, it would be remarkable because of its exceptionally long caudal fin. Now, a Thresher Shark is a newsworthy event caught by a boat angler out of the notable shark fishing centre of Looe, south Cornwall. The shark was landed and released.
Three species of Thresher Shark have been declared to be "vulnerable", according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of threatened species

BBC News Report
Link to an Image of a Thresher Shark from Cardigan Bay, Wales

Early May 2008
A Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, was seen feeding at the surface off Portland, Dorset, exceptionally early in the year. 

Report by Paul Martin
21 November 2007
A five metre long Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, was landed at Newlyn Fish Market and was caught by skipper of The Imogen Roger Nowell whilst trawling for squid and John Dory off Land's End. It weighed weighed  510 kg (1,125 lb) and was the heaviest on record landed at Newlyn. Comparatively, the angling record fish weighed 146 kg. Commercial fishermen have landed Thresher Sharks up to 400 kg before. 
BBC News Report

18 May 2004
Three professional anglers witnessed a Thresher Shark, Alopias, leap completely out of the water, tail and all, four consecutive times to the west of Alderney, Channel Islands, Great Britain at about 8:00 pm. One angler told me that he estimated the body length of the shark at about 170 cm. The leaping activity occurred about 100 metres away from their boat. The leaps were head first and perpendicular out of the water. There were drifting while fishing for Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, approximately one mile west of Garden Rock, which has a large Gannet colony covering the entire rock. Atlantic Mackerel were also in the area.

Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group

10 November 1999
A juvenile male Thresher Shark, Alopias vulpinus, was landed in Guernsey. It was caught in gill nets about one mile south of Guernsey in about 20 metres of water. It measured 175 cm in total length, of which the long forked caudal or tail fin is about this length. 
More Information

Reports by Richard Lord (Guernsey).
10 June 1999
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

July 1999
Sharp-nosed Seven-gilled Shark, Hepranchias perlo, was caught on a bottom-set long-line to the west of the Isles of Scilly . This only the third record of this shark in British and Irish* waters, the other records occurring off Cornwall and southern Ireland. It was an immature female, which made it a large specimen for its size, when compared to Pacific specimens. The total length of the shark was 102 cm.
(*British does not refer to UK territorial waters.)
Report by Dr. Aaron C. Henderson (who dissected the specimen)
Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute
National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland.

Shark reports not checked yet 
British Sharks

Somnulosus microcephalus 
Etmopterus spinax 
Dalatias licha
Echinorhinus brucus 
Hexanchus griseus
Heptranehias perlo
Chlamydoselachus anguineus
Squalus acanthias 
Sphyrna zygaena 
Prionace glauca 
Mustelus mustelus
Mustelus asterias
Galeorhinus galeus
Galeus melastomus 
Scyliorhinus canicula
Scyliorhinus stellaris 
Squatina squatina
Isurus oxyrinchus
Alopius vulpinus 
Alopias superciliosus
Lamna nasus 
Cetorhinus maximus
Echinorhinus brucus 

All Shark species (External)

Recommended Guide: 

A Field Guide to the Sharks of British Coastal Waters

by Philip Vas

Field Studies Council Publications. Tel: 01743 850370.


ISBN 0-00-220104-6
This book contains a large bibliography. 

Basking Sharks (Isle of Man, UK)
Basking Shark Fact Sheet (USA)
Inference Search Engine (good for sharks)

                Shark  Discovery CD-ROM is available.

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Fish Page
International Marine News
Egg Capsules of Rays & Sharks

Egg Capsules of Rays & Sharks (Link)

Fiona's Shark Mania
Sharkman's World
Shark & Ray Species List (British)

UK Elasmobranchs

Use these links if your are familiar with the scientific classifications of marine life
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