Which sharks are in the UK, are there great white sharks in British waters and how common are shark attacks?


THE waters around Britain are home to more than 40 different species of shark, including the second largest fish in the whole world – the massive basking shark.

So which species are the most likely to be spotted off the UK coast – and how rare are shark attacks?

A snap was taken of this basking shark off the coast of the Isle of Coll, Scotland,




Which sharks are in UK waters?

More than 40 different species of shark pass through UK waters, but only 21 of these can be found all year round.

The porbeagle is one of the most common types of shark to be spotted by British fisherman.

Its distinctive dorsal fin and long powerful body are among the characteristics that make the creature resemble a great white.

Thankfully, there has never been a confirmed case of a porbeagle killing a human, as the predators feed on smaller fish.

The basking shark is another species that regularly causes alarm in British waters.

Even though the creature can grow up to ten metres long, and has a worryingly large jaw, it’s highly unlikely they will attack as they feast on plankton.

Blue sharks can also be found in British waters but they are seasonal visitors only.

A Porbeagle was snared on a boat off the Devon coast run by Dan Hawkins (pictured) of Reel Deal Chartered
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How common are shark attacks worldwide and in the UK?

Every year, around 70 shark attacks are reported worldwide – and only a fraction of these are fatal.

Given that there are more than 480 different species, this is a relatively small number.

Only three sharks are considered to carry out unprovoked attacks on humans: the great white, tiger and bull.

None of these species are found in British waters.


It is unlikely that you will have to fear a shark attack if you are paddling in the British sea[/caption]

When a human touches or aggravates a shark before the creature retaliates, it is known as a “provoked attack”.

There are three different types of unprovoked attacks…

Hit-and-run: This is the term used to describe the most common type of shark attack, which thankfully doesn’t tend to lead to fatal injuries.

In this instance, the shark will bite its victim and leave, usually because the creature has mistaken the swimmer for its natural prey.

Sneak: This attack is often fatal, but it is extraordinarily rare.

In these cases, the creature will wound and bite an unsuspecting victim with the intention of consuming them.

Bump-and-bite: This attack is typical to the great white, where the shark will circle its victim before biting and returning for more.

Even though the great white shark is often vilified, Florida Museum of Natural History estimates that they have killed just 80 humans since 1580
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Have great white sharks ever been seen off the coast of Britain?

While some fishermen have claimed to have spotted the species most associated with the film Jaws, none of these sightings have been officially confirmed.

As the sharks prefer warm waters, it is highly unlikely that you’d find them in British waters.

The great white can be found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea.

In July 2019, a hammerhead shark was spotted off the British Isles for the first time.

The fearsome predator, which has a distinctive hammer-shaped flattened head, was spotted about 100 miles south west of Ireland.


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