The 7 Biggest Sharks Found in UK Waters

In the realm of mesmerizing marine beings, few captivate the human imagination quite like sharks. With their streamlined bodies, formidable dentition, and predatory prowess, they have long held a special allure. While the United Kingdom may not be the immediate locale that springs to mind when envisioning shark encounters, its waters host a remarkable array of shark species, including some of the biggest sharks in UK waters. These extraordinary creatures boast diverse sizes and distinctive traits. They afford divers and researchers a splendid occasion to intimately witness and investigate their existence.

1. The Basking Shark (Cetorhinus Maximus)

A large basking shark swimming in the ocean. The shark is dark grey with a white belly. It has a long snout and pointed fins. The shark is swimming in clear blue water.
Scientific Name: Cetorhinus maximus
Weight: Up to 5 tons
Length: Up to 32 feet (10 meters)

The basking shark, widely recognized as the second-largest living fish species, gracefully roams the waters of the United Kingdom. These serene giants have a distinctive dorsal fin and possess enormous mouths.

Despite their intimidating appearance, basking sharks are filter feeders. They use a fascinating technique of engulfing plankton and small fish as they constantly swim with their mouths open. The sheer size of their bodies, combined with their unique feeding behavior, makes them a captivating sight for divers and researchers fortunate enough to encounter them.

In the summertime, basking sharks frequently grace the coastal waters of the British Isles. They embark on their migratory expedition in pursuit of nourishment within the bountiful depths. These majestic beings, celebrated for their gentle disposition, present no overt menace to human beings.

On the contrary, they beckon divers and wildlife enthusiasts, all in search of the extraordinary privilege to witness these tranquil behemoths in their pristine abode.

2. The Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus)

Scientific Name: Lamna nasus
Weight: Up to 600 pounds
Length: Up to 10 feet (3 meters)

Another notable shark species frequently found in the waters of the United Kingdom is the porbeagle shark. This formidable creature shares a close resemblance to the great white shark. It exhibits a sleek body, strong jaws, and sharp teeth.

Their diet primarily consists of fish and squid. They often come into contact with anglers who are typically targeting other marine species. Possessing significant power and agility, porbeagle sharks emerge as formidable predators, adding excitement to fishing expeditions.

Renowned for their muscular physique, porbeagle sharks have the agility required to chase and capture swiftly swimming prey. Anglers fortunate enough to encounter porbeagles during their marine excursions often find themselves engaged in a thrilling battle of strength and strategy, as these sharks put up fierce resistance.

The presence of these predators in the waters of the United Kingdom adds to the thrill of exploring the region’s marine landscapes.

3. The Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)

Blue Shark swimming in UK waters
Scientific Name: Prionace glauca
Weight: Up to 400 pounds
Length: Up to 12 feet (3.8 meters)

The mesmerizing blue shark, known for its elegance and agility, finds its home in the temperate waters surrounding the British Isles. Adorned with a beautiful blue color, these sharks effortlessly blend into the ocean’s depths, thanks to their remarkable adaptation.

With a potential length of 12 feet, blue sharks exhibit exceptional hunting skills. They prey on a variety of fish and squid. Their streamlined bodies and sharp teeth make them the epitome of predatory excellence.

Driven by their curiosity, blue sharks often approach fishing vessels, diligently following them in search of potential sources of food. This behavior has facilitated the efforts of researchers and wildlife photographers. It enables them to conduct studies and capture breathtaking images of these magnificent creatures.

While blue sharks generally display non-aggressive behavior towards humans, it is important to exercise caution and show utmost respect for their domain when encountering them in the wild.

Related: Are Bull Sharks Dangerous? Unraveling the Truth

4. The Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)

The Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)
Scientific Name: Isurus oxyrinchus
Weight: Up to 1,000 pounds
Length: Up to 12 feet (3.8 meters)

The shortfin mako shark, scientifically known as Isurus oxyrinchus, is one of the fastest swimmers in the ocean. It is capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Its sleek body and slender teeth make it an efficient predator.

During the summer months, when sea temperatures rise, shortfin makos occasionally venture into the waters of the United Kingdom. With their speed and agility, they prove to be formidable hunters, easily overpowering relatively large prey. Distinguished by their sleek bodies, pointed snouts, and large, round eyes, shortfin mako sharks have a distinct appearance.

Their upper side is bluish-gray, transitioning into a white underbelly. Positioned at the top of the food chain, these sharks have a diverse diet, feeding on various fish, squid, and even other sharks. Using their impressive speed and formidable jaws, they pursue and capture their prey with unparalleled precision.

Encounters with shortfin mako sharks in the waters of the UK may be rare. Yet, when they do grace us with their presence, they bestow upon divers and researchers an exhilarating encounter. Renowned for their acrobatic leaps and astonishing bursts of speed, these sharks offer a spectacle of awe-inspiring magnificence beneath the ocean’s facade.

While their disposition towards humans is typically benign, it remains imperative to approach them with prudence and hold their natural conduct in the utmost regard.

5. The Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus)

The Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus) swimming in UK waters
Scientific Name: Alopias vulpinus
Weight: Up to 1,000 pounds
Length: Up to 20 feet (6 meters)

The thresher shark, scientifically called Alopias vulpinus, is a unique species known for its long upper caudal fin, used to immobilize prey. They can reach lengths of up to 20 feet and possess exceptional hunting abilities.

In the waters of the UK, thresher sharks encounter various fish and squid, which they voraciously feed on. With their distinctive caudal fin, these sharks are easily recognizable. The hunting behavior of thresher sharks is a spectacle that lucky divers find truly captivating.

With their slender bodies, thresher sharks have a sizable upper lobe on their caudal fin. This lobe can extend the length of their entire body. This long tail fin allows them to whip and subdue their prey, making capturing and consuming it easier. The species demonstrates remarkable intelligence and agility, often showcasing intricate hunting behaviors.

Rare encounters with thresher sharks in UK waters provide divers and underwater photographers with an extraordinary experience. Their unique physical characteristics and hunting behavior make them an enthralling subject for research and observation.

Although thresher sharks generally display non-aggressive behavior towards humans, it is crucial to maintain a respectful distance and refrain from actions that may disturb or provoke them.

6. The Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus)

The Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus)
Scientific Name: Somniosus microcephalus
Weight: Up to 2,200 pounds
Length: Up to 21 feet (6.5 meters)

The enigmatic Greenland shark, scientifically referred to as Somniosus microcephalus, dwells within the chilly waters of the North Atlantic, encompassing certain regions of the United Kingdom. Characterized by their unhurried gait, this species lays claim to an extraordinarily protracted lifespan, with select individuals persevering for numerous years.

With a robust and hefty body, the Greenland shark has a blunt snout and small eyes. Their coloration typically ranges from gray to brown, allowing them to blend seamlessly with the dark depths of the ocean.

The species has a unique feeding behavior, often scavenging for dead creatures and targeting slow-moving prey. Their slow metabolism enables them to survive in frigid waters with limited food availability.

Encounters with Greenland sharks in UK waters are relatively rare due to their preference for deep-sea habitats and elusive nature. However, researchers have managed to study these sharks using specialized equipment and techniques.

Their ability to withstand extreme cold and their long lifespan have sparked scientific curiosity and conservation efforts.

Related: Where Do Bull Sharks Live?

7. The Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

The Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in UK waters
Scientific Name: Carcharodon carcharias
Weight: Up to 5,000 pounds
Length: Up to 20 feet (6 meters)

While sightings of great white sharks in UK waters are not as common as those of other species mentioned, occasional reports do emerge. As apex predators and the largest predatory fish on Earth, great white sharks can reach lengths of up to 20 feet. They have an intimidating reputation.

However, their presence in UK waters is infrequent and encounters with humans are extremely rare. These awe-inspiring creatures embody power and grace in their aquatic realm, evoking both fear and wonder.

Distinguished by their sturdy bodies, pointed snouts, and rows of large, serrated teeth, great white sharks have a distinct gray color. They are also capable of breaching the water’s surface during hunting. Their primary diet consists of seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals. Great white sharks utilize their speed and ambush tactics to capture prey.

Great white sharks are known for their extensive migration patterns. Their appearances in UK waters are typically influenced by specific environmental conditions or following their prey. These sightings attract significant attention from the public and researchers, warranting recognition. Importantly, great whites are protected in many regions due to their conservation importance.

Summary: Biggest Sharks in UK Waters

In the waters surrounding the United Kingdom, a diverse array of impressive shark species call these depths home. From the gentle giant basking shark to the swift shortfin mako, and the iconic blue shark to the enigmatic Greenland shark, these creatures contribute to the vibrant marine tapestry of the UK’s seas.

Shark SpeciesScientific NameWeightLengthConservation Status
Basking SharkCetorhinus maximusUp to 5 tonsUp to 32 feetVulnerable
Porbeagle SharkLamna nasusUp to 600 poundsUp to 10 feetEndangered
Blue SharkPrionace glaucaUp to 400 poundsUp to 12 feetNear Threatened
Shortfin Mako SharkIsurus oxyrinchusUp to 1,000 poundsUp to 12 feetVulnerable
Thresher SharkAlopias vulpinusUp to 1,000 poundsUp to 20 feetVulnerable
Greenland SharkSomniosus microcephalusUp to 1,000 poundsUp to 21 feetVulnerable
Great White SharkCarcharodon carchariasUp to 1,000 poundsUp to 20 feetVulnerable

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Has the UK ever had a great white shark?

The United Kingdom has had occasional reports and sightings of the world’s biggest predatory fish, the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), in its waters. However, it’s important to note that encounters with great white sharks in UK waters are extremely rare.

Are there any sharks in UK waters?

Yes, there are sharks in UK waters. The waters surrounding the United Kingdom are home to various shark species, including the basking shark, porbeagle shark, blue shark, shortfin mako shark, thresher shark, Greenland shark, and occasional sightings of great white sharks. While encounters with some species are more common than others, the presence of sharks contributes to the rich marine biodiversity of UK waters.

What sharks visit UK waters?

Various shark species visit UK waters, including the basking shark, porbeagle shark, blue shark, shortfin mako shark, thresher shark, Greenland shark, and occasionally the great white shark.

Are there mako sharks in the UK?

Yes, shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus) can be found in UK waters. They occasionally visit during the warmer summer months. Shortfin makos are known for their streamlined bodies and impressive speed, making them formidable ocean predators.

What is the largest shark found in UK waters?

The basking shark is the largest shark found in UK waters, reaching lengths of up to 32 feet (10 meters). Despite its size, it poses no threat to humans.

Waqar Muhammad

Waqar Muhammad is a passionate pet lover and blogger with years of experience in the world of pets. As the author of this blog, he aims to share his knowledge and insights to help fellow pet owners provide the best care for their furry friends.

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