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SHARKS AND RAYS IN UK WATERS

Content Updated: 21st March 2008

That which follows is a list of sharks and rays that have been caught in UK territorial waters (e.g. 12 nautical miles / 22.2km from the coast). The list makes no assumptions about residency of any of the listed species, nor does it suggest that all these sharks and rays can still be found in our waters. Species listed in blue are species dubium, owing to only one confirmed specimen from the UK. Please note that the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is not included in this list owing the a lack of any confirmed evidence for this species' presence - see my article on British Great white shark for more details.

Starry Smoothhound SharkSharks (35 Species)

Superorder: Galeomorphi

Order: Lamniformes (Mackerel Sharks)

Family: Cetorhinidae – Basking Sharks
Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)

Family: Alopiidae – Thresher Sharks
Bigeye Thresher Shark (Alopias superciliosus)
Common Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus)

Family: Lamnidae – Mackerel Sharks
Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus)
Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) - below, right

Order: Carcharhiniformes (Ground Sharks)

Family: Scyliorhinidae - Catsharks
Blackmouth Catshark (Galeus melastomus)
Greater Spotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus stellaris) - Sometimes referred to as the Nursehound.
Iceland Catshark (Apristurus laurissoini)
Mouse Catshark (Galeus murinus)
Smallspotted Catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula) - Sometimes referred to as the Chained, or Common dogfish.
White Ghost Catshark (Apristurus aphyodes)

Family: Pseudotriakidae – False Catsharks
False Catshark (Pseudotriakis microdon)

Family: Triakidae – Smoothhound Sharks
Common Smoothhound (Mustelus mustelus)
Starry Smoothhound (Mustelus asterias) - above, right

Family: Galeorhinidae - Houndsharks
Tope Shark (Galeorhinus galeus)

Shortfin Mako SharkFamily: Sphyrnidae – Hammerhead Sharks
Smooth Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna zygaena)

Family: Carcharhinidae – Whaler / Requiem Sharks
Blue Shark (Prionace glauca)

Superorder: Squalomorphi

Order: Chlamydoselachiformes (Frilled Sharks)

Family: Chlamydoselachidae – Frilled Shark
Frilled Shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus)

Order: Hexanchiformes (Cow Sharks)

Family: Heptranchiidae – Sharpnose Sevengill Sharks
Sharpnose Sevengill Shark (Heptranchias perlo)

Family: Hexanchidae – Cow Sharks
Bluntnose Sixgill Shark (Hexanchus griseus)

Order: Echinorhiniformes (Bramble / Prickly Sharks)

Family: Echinorhinidae – Bramble Sharks
Bramble Shark (Echinorhinus brucus)

Order: Squaliformes (Dogfish Sharks)

Family: Squalidae – Dogfish Sharks
Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias) - right

Family: Centrophoridae – Gulper Sharks
Birdbeak Dogfish (Deania calcea)
Leafscale Gulper (Centrophorus squamosus)

Angel sharkFamily: Etmopteridae – Lantern Sharks
Black Dogfish (Centroscyllium fabricii)
Greater Lanternshark (Etmopterus princeps)
Velvet Belly Lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax)

Family: Oxynotidae – Rough Sharks
Angular Rough Shark (Oxynotus centrina)
Sailfin Rough Shark (Oxynotus paradoxus)

Family: Somniosidae – Sleeper Sharks
Greenland Shark (Somniosus microcephalus)
Knifetooth Dogfish (Scymnodon ringens)
Longnose Velvet Dogfish (Centroscymnus crepidater)
Portuguese Dogfish (Centroscymnus coelolepis)

Family: Dalatiidae – Kitefin Sharks
Kitefin Shark (Dalatias licha)

Order: Squatiniformes (Angel Sharks)

Family: Squatinidae – Angel Sharks
Angel Shark (Squatina squatina) - right

Skates and Rays (26 Species) Superorder: Batoidiomorphi

Order: Myliobatiformes (Stingrays)

Family: Myliobatidae – Eagle Rays
Common Eagle Ray (Myliobatis aquila)
Devil Ray (Mobula mobular)

Thornback RayOrder: Rajiformes (Skates)

Family: Dasyatidae - Stingrays
Common Stingray (Dasyatis pastinaca)

Family: Rajidae – Skates
Arctic Skate (Amblyraja hyperborea)
Bigelow’s Ray (Rajella bigelowi)
Blonde Ray (Raja brachyura)
Blue Ray (Neoraja caerulea)
Common Skate (Dipturus batis)
Cuckoo Ray (Leucoraja naevus)
Deepwater Ray (Rajella bathyphila)
Longnosed Skate (Dipturus oxyrinchus)
Norwegian / Black Skate (Dipturus nidarosiensis)
Pale Ray (Bathyraja pallida)
Richardson’s Ray (Bathyraja richardsoni)
Round Ray (Rajella fyllae)
Sandy Ray (Leucoraja circularis)
Shagreen Ray (Leucoraja fullonica)
Small-eyed Ray (Raja microocellata)
Spine-tailed Ray (Bathyraja spinicauda)
Spotted Ray (Raja montagui)
Starry Ray / Thorny Skate (Amblyraja radiata)
Thornback Ray (Raja clavata) - right
Undulate Ray (Raja undulata)
White Skate (Rostroraja alba)

Order: Torpediniformes (Electric Rays)

Family: Torpedinidae – Electric Rays
Atlantic Torpedo Ray (Torpedo nobiliana)
Spotted Electric Ray (Torpedo marmorata)

The current state of batoid classification is anything but resolved and there is still much to be untangled. The phylogeny used above is that proposed by McEachran and Aschliman (2004).

References used in the composition of this list include Philip Vas’ book Sharks of British Coastal Waters (1991), the Collins Pocket Guide to Fish of Britain and Europe by Peter Miller and Michael Loates (1997), Bob Earll's 1994 article to the journal British Wildlife, and Leonard Compagno’s Sharks of the World (1984) with amendments made according to his 2001 and 2005 revisions. Additional species were added via personal communication from Douglas Herdson (Marine Fish Information Services, Plymouth), Dr. Paul Crozier (Scottish Association of Marine Science), Dirk Hovestadt and Martin Cadee. I am sincerely grateful to each of these people for their assistance compiling the list.

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