Shark Leather
Bull Shark © Rob Allen.

Shark, skate and ray skin has been used for decades to make leather, otherwise known as shagreen, because it is so durable.

Shark skins are tanned in the same way as the skin of most terrestrial animals such as cows, although the untanned skin, known as shagreen, is also used to produce leather goods.

Shark leather items are particularly popular in the United States, northern Europe and Japan. Shark skin is widely used to create luxury items such as; pocket books, wallets, cases, shoes and boots (including football boots created by the brand Kelme), handbags, purses, watch straps, belts, gloves, jackets and furniture. It is also used on sword handles, as its rough texture helps with grip, and as sandpaper.

According to the United Nations, Tiger, Lemon, Dusky, Nurse, Sandbar, Porbeagle, Shortfin Mako, Scalloped Hammerhead and Bull Sharks are most often used in the manufacture of leather goods.

Demand for these luxury items continues to grow, as leather becomes more fashionable. Consumer awareness regarding the implications of buying these products is vital to shark conservation.