Sharks have inhabited our oceans for over 400 hundred million years and survived five mass extinctions, demonstrating perfect adaption to their environment. They occupy almost every marine ecosystem on earth with some even able to survive in freshwater!


The world of sharks is amazingly diverse. From tiny Pygmy Lantern Sharks with their glowing bellies, to impressive filter-feeding Whale Sharks that can grow up to 17m long, Epaulette Sharks that use their fins to walk over coral reefs and bizarre looking Tasselled Wobbegongs that use camouflage to hide from their prey.

Worldwide there are over 500 species of shark, 600 skates and rays and 50 chimaera. Without sharks, marine eco-systems face an uncertain future, which is why safeguarding the future of these species is vital.

Epaulette Shark © Alex Mustard

Epaulette Sharks use their pectoral fins to ‘walk’ over the reef.

Hammerhead Shark © Jillian Morris

The unusual shape of this sharks head allows it to see 360°.

Zebra Shark © Leolin Grower

Juvenile Zebra Sharks have black stripes, which become spots as they mature.

Port Jackson Shark © Taso Viglas

These sharks reproduce by laying corkscrew shaped eggcases that they wedge in rock crevices.

Whale Shark © Andy Botten

The biggest fish in the sea can grow up to 17m long!

Blue Shark © Terry Goss

This dazzling blue shark undertakes long-distance migrations.

Whitetip Reef Sharks © Ofer Ketter

Whitetip Reef Sharks tend to rest during the day but come out at night to hunt.

Raggedtooth Shark © Dray van Beeck

Also called the Sandtiger or Grey Nurse Shark, these sharks can often be seen in aquariums.

White Shark © Sean Sequeira

The infamous White Shark can be found in temperate seas all over the world.

Wobbegong © Andy Murch

Master of disguise - this shark camouflages itself against the reefs, where it lies in wait for prey.

Sevengill Shark © Peter de Maagt

These sharks have two extra sets of gills compared to most other sharks that only have five.

Lemon Shark © Vignaud Thomas

Female Lemon Sharks give birth to pups in shallow sheltered nursery grounds.



Despite being perfectly adapted to their environment sharks, are now among the most endangered species on the planet largely due to human activities such as overfishing, bycatch, shark finning and habitat destruction. As apex predators sharks, just like wolves and lions on land, fulfil a key role in maintaining the balance of the ocean by keeping other populations in check. As they prey on the weakest species (such as the sick and old), they also prevent the spread of disease and improve the gene pool, helping to create healthy ecosystems. Unfortunately their life history strategy of slow growth, late maturity and few offspring makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation.


Recent assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Shark Specialist Group ranked sharks of the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea with the worst conservation status of all assessed regions. 30% of EU and 50% of the UK’s sharks are listed as threatened with some reported to have declined by 99%. Populations continue to decline under the intense pressure of unmanaged modern fisheries practices, driven by global consumer demand for shark based products.


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