Sharks: Species at Risk

Basking shark

Basking sharks are the second largest living shark, easily distinguished by their huge mouths. These slow, harmless sharks often swim with their mouths open wide in order to filter-feed on plankton, copepods, larvae and fish eggs.

This specie is not in European waters, it´s easily identified from other grey sharks by a black or dusky spot beneath the snout tip, the blacknose shark has an unusually fast growth rate. Blacknose sharks reach maturity in just two years and produce three to six young at a time.

Blue sharks are one of the most wide-ranging and previously abundant shark species. Now, they are the most heavily fished shark in the world. An estimated 10-20 million individuals are killed by pelagic fisheries annually, mostly as bycatch.

Caribbean reef shark

The Caribbean reef shark is found from the coast of North Carolina to the coast of Brazil, but not in European waters. As the name suggests, this species is found most often around corals reefs and is considered the most abundant reef shark in its region.

Common thresher shark

The common thresher shark is easily identified by the unusually long upper lobe of its caudal tail. Such a lengthy fin allows the shark to herd and stun small schooling fish such as mackerels, bluefishes, needlefishes and lantern fishes.

Deep-sea shark

Since sharks lack a swim bladder, they use oil in their livers to regulate their buoyancy. Deep-sea sharks, those living below 300 meters, have huge livers with more oil to adjust to these depths. As a result, they are caught by deep-sea trawls, gillnetts and longlines for an oily substance found in their livers called squalene. Squalene, or its derivative squalane, is found in many cosmetic products.

Dusky shark

Among one of the slowest growing sharks in the world, the dusky shark takes 20 years to reach maturity and has a 16 month gestation period. This low rate of increase makes dusky sharks particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

Great white shark

As the biggest meat-eating sharks, great whites average between 4 and 7 meters but have been recorded at lengths over 11 meters. Great whites, which have torpedo-shaped bodies and pointed snouts, get their name from the distinctive white coloring on their undersides.

Lemon shark

The lemon shark is found down to a depth of about 90 meters, but pups remain in shallow water for several years. They are known to withstand changes in salinity and can even be found in fresh water.

Young lemon sharks rely on protected coastal areas, which act as nurseries and are being degraded at an alarming rate. Lemon sharks are considered “Near Threatened” by the IUCN.

Longfin mako shark

Little is known about this typically deep-dwelling species. Like their short-finned relative, longfin makos prefer warmer water, but they are rarely encountered.

Nurse shark

This bottom-dwelling, docile species is found in a variety of habitats which include continental shelves, corals and rocky reefs, mangroves and sand flats. Nurse sharks are equipped with long barbells on their snout to locate benthic prey.

Oceanic whitetip shark

Found far from shore, the oceanic whitetip shark’s range spans entire oceans. Oceanic whitetips are now rarely seen, although previously considered one of the most widespread and abundant sharks.

Porbeagle shark

This seasonally migratory species has a stocky body and short snout. Porbeagles are found around the world, but adjacent populations appear to be distinct. This species prefers colder waters and is, in fact, endothermic.

Sandbar shark

The sandbar shark feeds primarily on small fish in the bottom of the water column and is considered harmless to humans. The species is found in a variety of marine habitats, ranging from very shallow intertidal waters to depths of 280 meters.

Sandtiger shark

Sandtiger sharks are also known as the grey nurse shark and the spotted ragged-tooth shark. Sandtiger sharks have one of the lowest reproductive rates of any shark, giving birth to only one or two young every couple of years. Once a population is depleted, recovery is especially challenging due to their life history. Smaller populations are also much more susceptible to disease.

Scalloped hammerhead shark

The distinctive hammer-shaped head may provide improved  agility and increased sensor capacity for the scalloped hammerhead shark. A seasonally migratory species, the scalloped hammerhead is often found in schools.

Shortfin mako shark

Possibly the fastest shark and certainly one of the most active, the shortfin mako is only found in tropical and warm temperate seas. During summer months, shortfin makos follow patches of warm water.

Small spotted catshark

These small sharks have a light colored body with black spots from nose to tail. Adults often school by sex and eggs are deposited on seaweed throughout the year.

Spiny dogfish

The spiny dogfish, also known as the spurdog, is found within all of the world’s oceans. Spiny dogfish are caught for a variety of purposes which include: fish and chips, shark fin soup, fertilizers, liver oil, pet food and as a popular dissection specimen in academic science labs.

Whale shark

The whale shark is the world’s largest fish, with an average length of 14-20 meters. Yet, their diet consists of one of the ocean’s smallest organisms -- plankton. These filter-feeders can live to be 100 years old and may have up to 300 young per litter.