Sharks in Aquariums
Shark in Aquarium © Frank Hoefken.

For many people the issue of sharks in aquariums is a highly contentious issue while others view it as an essential means of education.

On first thought it is easy to say that no large animal (marine or otherwise) should be kept confined in a tank or cage. However responsible aquariums are in a position to benefit conservation in many ways from contributing to captive breeding programmes to performing novel science.

Many aquariums will house smaller shark species that do not require much space in the wild, such as Smallspotted Catsharks, Nursehounds and Epaulette Sharks. This is a great way to introduce people to the amazing diversity of shark species that exist in our oceans. Larger Sandtiger Sharks are also frequently exhibited due to their docile nature.

The Shark Trust values responsible commercial aquariums that follow strict regulations in terms of fish husbandry and welfare. We recognise the importance of their role in conservation and work closely with a number of aquariums throughout the UK to raise public awareness of sharks and their conservation.  

In other countries, a few aquariums exhibit much larger sharks, such as the White Shark and Whale Shark. Whether this is right or wrong remains a prickly, highly personal subject that will continue to provoke debate.

However, it cannot be disputed that these exhibits allow millions of visitors each year to build a lasting connection with these magnificent animals, a connection much more powerful than photographs or even film could create. This in turn generates public awareness of the threats sharks face and a motivation to help them. If someone has never seen a shark, how otherwise could you encourage support or sympathy for an animal that is as alien to the wider population as the surface of the moon?


UK Aquaria

A number of different species of sharks, skates and rays are held in public aquaria around the UK and Ireland. They vary significantly from being native species which can be found around our coastlines, to species present in more exotic oceans. Use this table to discover what species you can go and see in an aquarium near you!

Below is a map showing UK aquariums and a list of the sharks they exhibit:


View Aquaria UK in a larger map

Aquarium Location

Sharks Exhibited

Aquarium of the Lakes - Windermere, Cumbria. Nursehound
Smallspotted Catshark
Thornback Ray
Blonde Ray
Spotted Ray

Anglesey Sea Zoo - Wales.
Starry Smoothhound
Common Smoothhound
Thornback Ray
Undulate Ray
Spotted Rays
Smallspotted Catshark
Nursehound
Angelshark

Blue Planet Aquarium - Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.  
Sandtiger Shark
Lemon Shark
Nurse Shark
Banded Bamboo Shark
Grey Bamboo Shark
Ornate Wobbegong
Japanese Wobbegong
Port Jackson
Whitetip Reef Shark
Blacktip Reef Shark
Epaulette Shark
Coral Catshark
Spotted Bamboo Shark
Lesser-spotted Catshark
Nursehound
Southern Stingray
Cownose Ray
Guitarfish
Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray
Yellow Stingray
Thornback Ray
Undulate Ray
Small-eyed Ray
Spotted Ray
Blue Reef Aquarium - Southsea, Portsmouth.  Blacktip Reef Shark
Wobbegong
Epaulette Shark
Brown-banded Bamboo Shark
Crested Horn Shark
Pygmy Nurse Shark
Smallspotted Catshark
Greater Spotted Catshark
Starry Smoothhound
Common Stingray
Southern Stingray
Thornback Ray
Undulate Ray
Small-eyed Ray
Blonde Ray
Bournemouth Oceanarium - Dorset.   Blacktip Reef Shark
Brown-banded Bamboo Shark
Nurse Shark
Epaulette Shark
Horn Shark
Zebra Shark
Whitetip Reef Shark
Southern Stingray
Ocellated Freshwater Ray
Sharpnose Guitarfish
Cownose Ray

Deep Sea World - North Queensbury, Fife.  
Greater Spotted Catshark
Smallspotted Catshark
Tope
Sandtiger Shark
Angelshark
Atlantic Sting Ray
Blonde Ray
Freshwater Sting Ray
Spotted Ray
Thornback Ray
Undulate Ray

Exploris Aquarium - Portaferry, County Down.
Angelshark
Smallspotted Catshark
Nursehound
Thornback Ray
Blonde Ray
Spotted Ray
Cuckoo Ray
Smoothhound
Starry Smoothound
Small-eyed Ray
  
Galway Atlantaquaria - Ireland    
Starry Smoothhound
Common Smoothhound
Smallspotted Catshark
Nursehound
Thornback Ray
Spotted Ray
Small-eyed Ray
Undulate Ray
Common Stingray
Ilfracombe Aquarium - Devon.   Smallspotted Catshark
Nursehound
Thornback Ray
Small-eyed Ray
National Marine Aquarium - Plymouth, Devon. Starry Smoothhound
Smoothhound
Nursehound
Smallspotted Catshark
Common Stingray
Blonde Ray
Thornback Ray
Small-eyed Ray
Undulate Ray
Sandtiger Shark
Nurse Shark
Southern Stingray
Blacktip Reef Shark
Port Jackson Shark
Brown-banded Bamboo Catshark
Grey Bamboo Catshark
Coral Catshark
Epaulette Shark
Honeycomb Stingray
Spotted Eagle Ray
Newquay Blue Reef Aquarium - Cornwall. Blacktip Reef Shark
Banded Houndshark
Port Jackson shark
Brown banded Bamboo Shark
Short tailed Nurse Shark
Coral Catshark
Epaulette Shark
Smallspotted Catshark
Southern Stingray
Thornback Ray
Motoro Stingray
Sea Life Adventure - Southend-on-Sea. Blacktip Reef Shark
Smallspotted Catshark
Nursehound
Brownbanded Bamboo Shark
Undulate Ray
Thornback Ray
Small eyed Ray
Blonde Ray
Common Stingray
Ocellate Stingray
Sealife Centre Deep Sea World - Brighton, Sussex. Greater Spotted Catshark
Smallspoted Catshark
Bonnethead Shark
Starry Smoothound
Spotted Wobbegong
Blacktip Shark
Sandbar Shark
Tawny Nurse Shark
Zebra Shark
Spotted Ray
Unulate Ray
Thornback Ray
Cownose Ray
Marbled Electric Ray
Ocellate River Stingray

SeaLife London.

Sandtiger
Sandbar
Zebra Shark
Tawny Nurse Shark
Epaulette Shark
Smoothound
Spotted Ray
Undulate Ray
Thornback Ray
Blue Spotted Stingray
Southern Stingray
Eagle Stingray
Seaquarium - Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Starry Smoothhound
Common Smoothhound
Coral Catshark
Undulate Ray
Blonde Ray
Spotted Ray
Painted Ray
Thornback Ray

The Deep - Kingston-Upon-Hull.
Grey Reef Shark
WhiteTip Reef Shark
Green Sawfish
Sandtiger Shark
Nurse Shark
Spotted Wobbegong
Zebra Shark
Nursehound
Australian Marbled Catshark
Brown Banded Bamboo Shark
Black Stingray
Honeycomb Whiptail Ray
Bluespotted Stingray
Bluespotted Ribbontail Stingray
The Lake District Coast Aquarium - Maryport, Cumbria. Smallspotted Catshark
Nursehound
Starry Smoothhound
Undulate Ray
Thornback Ray
Blonde Ray
Small-eyed Ray
Spotted Ray
Common Stingray
Tynemouth Blue Reef Aquarium - Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear. Blacktip Reef Shark
Nursehound
Banded Catshark
Coral Catshark
Smallspotted Catshark
Horn Shark
Leopard Shark
Port Jackson Shark
Southern Stingray
Spotted Ray
Thornback Ray

If you wish to add any information to this database or amend any of the information given, then please contact us.