Dangerous sharks, such as the great hammerhead, could call our waters home within the next 30 years, as UK seas become warmer due to climate change.
A new study has claimed 10 shark species, normally found in warmer parts of the world, such as the Mediterranean sea and the coast of Africa, could be heading our way.
While many of the sharks listed are believed to be harmless to humans, there are some – including the great hammerhead, oceanic whitetips and shortfin mako – which have been known to attack humans. Gulp.
Currently, there are an estimated 10 million small and 100,000 larger sharks from 40 different species found in the seas around the UK.
A new “shark map” has named Cornwall as the country’s shark capital with at least 20 species found off the coast, followed by the Scilly Isles and Devon.
However species currently found around the UK, such as thresher, basking and nursehound sharks, are in decline due to over-fishing and other problems, according to Dr Ken Collins, from the University of Southampton and based at the National Oceanography Centre, who produced the research.
“While the potential number of shark species around the UK may increase in the next few decades, the overall number of sharks, especially the larger ones, will fall as a result of over-fishing, plastic waste and climate change,” he warned. “It’s really important we work together to prevent a premature extinction of these wonderful creatures.”
The 10 new species of shark that could inhabit British waters by 2050 are:
1. Great hammerhead
2. Blacktip shark
3. Sand tiger or spotted raggedtooth shark
4. Bigeye thresher
5. Longfin mako
6. Bronze whaler or copper shark
7. Oceanic whitetip shark
8. Silky shark
9. Dusky shark
10. Goblin shark
Dr Collins also revealed there was “no reason” why great white sharks could not invade our waters in the future, as they are typically found in colder waters, such as off the coast of South Africa, and they like to eat seals, of which there are plenty in Cornwall.
However, due to declining numbers worldwide, the chances of seeing them in the UK falls each year.
The research was commissioned to mark Nat Geo WILD’s week-long “Sharkfest” of TV programming this week.