Watch out for Berty the Basking Shark this summer, as he makes his annual trip to the UK!
Sharks may have a scary reputation but many species are actually among the most endangered on the planet and not at all interested in eating humans – we’re far too bony for them. In fact over half the species of shark are smaller than a human adult!
Although there are a few species of sharks that may be considered dangerous to humans, such as the White Shark, Bull Shark and Tiger Shark, shark attacks are actually very rare. In fact, did you know that statistically you are more likely to be killed by a bee than a shark? Compare this to how dangerous humans are to sharks – we kill up to 73 million sharks a year for their fins to make Shark Fin Soup.
Sharks have existed for over 400 million years, before even the dinosaurs roamed the earth, but today they face extinction due to shark finning, overfishing and habitat destruction. This is worrying because many sharks, like the White Shark, are top predators in the marine food chain and play a vital role in the ecosystem. As the number of sharks continues to decline marine ecosystems will become unstable, causing all sorts of problems.
The Shark Trust works to protect and conserve sharks. When we refer to sharks we also include skates, rays and chimaeras, as they are all closely related and are collectively known as Chondrichthyans. Sharks, skates and rays have even more in common and are known as Elasmobranchs. Elasmobranchs differ to most other fish as their skeletons are made of cartilage instead of bone, they have five pairs of gills (although some sharks have more) instead of one, and they have rough skin that feels like sandpaper, instead of scales.
The White Shark is infamous but did you know there are over 500 different types of sharks in the world and they come in all different sizes, colours and patterns? There are tiny sharks that can fit in the palm of your hand, sharks bigger than a double decker bus, brightly coloured sharks with intricate patterns and others that light up the ocean. Visit our top sharks page to find out more about the different types of sharks.