Angler Recording Project Results

Thank you to all shark, skate and ray anglers who have taken part in the Angler Recording Project. The number of anglers keen to help the Shark Trust develop an accurate and independent dataset on the distribution and abundance of inshore sharks, skates and rays (known collectively as elasmobranchs) continues to grow - at present our database holds records of over 7000 elasmobranchs, caught on more than 2300 fishing trips.

Not surprisingly, Smallspotted Catsharks (more commonly known to anglers as dogfish) have been recorded in the greatest number, followed by Starry Smoothhounds, Nursehounds and Blue Sharks. The Angler Recording Project combines Common Smoothhound and Starry Smoothhounds catch records into one category: Starry Smoothhound.  This takes into account recent genetic research which indicates that only the Starry Smoothhound occur in British waters, with the presence/absence of white spots not an accurate indicator of species. As of August 2014, over 6100 sharks have been recorded.  

Chart showing total sharks recorded as of August 2014. Illustrations © Marc Dando.

Focusing on skates and rays, Thornbacks have been recorded in the greatest numbers, which is not surprising given this species’ distribution throughout British waters. Blonde and Small-eyed Rays are the next most frequently recorded species. As of August 2014, just under 1200 skates and rays have been recorded.  

Chart showing total skates and rays recorded as of August 2014. Illustrations © Marc Dando.

Unusual catches include an 8lb. Marbled Torpedo Ray (Torpedo marmorata), caught off the Bournemouth coast – these rays need to be handled with care, as they can pack a 200 volt punch! An Angelshark (Squatina squatina) was also recorded from the northern Cornish coast. Once abundant, Angelsharks are now listed as Critically Endangered, and found in only a small number of ‘refuges’ in British waters. Fishing out of Milford Haven, Wales, an angler also caught and released a Shortfin Mako (Isurus oxyrinchus). Although a regular seasonal visitor to British waters, Shortfin Mako are only rarely encountered by anglers.

The Southwest corner of the UK remains the core for participation, although records are coming in from Northern Ireland, Anglesey, Liverpool Bay and the Southeast of England, there are still plenty of gaps around the coastline which need records.

Record your catch