It’s that time of year again when we are all thinking about sharks! Join Magnus the Shark at this year’s Shark Weeks event running between the 14th October – 25th October (dates may vary - check local centre webpages for more details).
In an urgent bid for shark conservation, SEA LIFE centres will be hosting Shark Weeks in celebration of one of natures most magnificent but misunderstood creatures.
For no extra cost to your entrance price discover a close encounter with various shark species and enjoy many fun and memorable activities throughout your visit!
On the day!
- Discover some of nature’s most fascinating creatures by meeting them up close.
- Enjoy Shark Talks and Feeding Demonstrations throughout your day.
- Prepare for fun Shark Arts & Games during your visit.
- Take part in our Magnus Quiz Trail and test what you have learnt.
To help you prepare, why not download our Fun with Magnus activity pack before your shark day at SEA LIFE!
Follow the link and print to help you make the most of your time with us!
Don’t forget to have a photo with Magnus the shark before you leave! We look forward to seeing you soon!
For SEA LIFE centre opening times and entrance prices please go to the centre’s website that you are planning to visit by selecting from the drop-down in the top right of this page.
Thank you for helping us to protect sharks for future generations to come.
About Sharks | The Threats | How are SEA LIFE helping sharks? | How can you help? | Magnus Stories
Sharks are one of the oldest creatures known to man and one of the world’s most efficient hunters. There are over 350 species of shark worldwide and they have been on earth for over 400 million years, predating the dinosaurs!
Where in the World
Different shark species have evolved so that they can swim in every ocean, from warm tropical waters to icy polar seas. Various species live in the deep, dark waters of the ocean, while others prefer sunlit waters close to the surface. A few, such as the Bull Shark, even swim up rivers, and into fresh water lakes.
Not all sharks are big. A Dwarf Lantern Shark is one of the smallest sharks in the world and only grows between 16 and 19cms.
On the other hand, some sharks can grow to enormous sizes such as the Whale shark which can grow to lengths ranging from 7 to 14 metres and weigh up o 14 tonnes! This shark is the largest of its entire species.
Most sharks are meat eaters, or carnivores with many feeding on other fish and even other sharks. When it comes to feeding, sharks can be divided into two categories:
Active Predators – The Bull, Tiger and Great White Sharks are examples of active predators. They are always on the look out for prey like seals and other fish.
Filter Feeders – Whale and Basking Sharks are filter-feeders. They graze on small sea creatures such as plankton and small shrimp.
The Megalodon Shark is the biggest prehistoric shark to have been discovered at 60+ feet long. That’s the length of three Great White Sharks swimming in front of each other!
It's tooth alone is the size of an adult's human hand!
Sharks are a type of fish. They belong to the class called chondrichthyes that includes all fish whose skeletons are made up of cartilage. This makes them very flexible in the water. Their skin is made up of tiny denticles which help them become more hydrodynamic and enable them to reach top speeds whilst hunting.
The Short-fin Mako Shark is the world’s fastest shark and is believed to achieve a speed of up to 60 mph when pursuing fast prey like swordfish.
Alternatively, the Greenland Shark are perhaps the slowest swimming shark and has an average cruising speed of just 34cm per second, which is approximately as fast as a new born hatchling sea turtle.
Sharks reproduce in different ways depending on species:
Oviporous, which means ‘egg birth’. The mother shark will lay its eggs in the water, where they attach to water plants or rocks using its strange tendrils. These give the egg a very distinctive look. Their strange appearance has earned them the nickname “Mermaids’ Purses”. Sharks such as the Horn Shark are born this way. Once they emerge from the egg, they straight away face the dangers of the ocean.
Ovoviviparous, which means ‘live egg birth’. The shark baby or pup hatches from its egg inside the mother and matures in her womb before she gives birth to it. Sometimes, when it’s inside the mother, it eats the other eggs and pups to survive. This is the way that sharks like the Sand Tiger Shark are born.
Viviparous, which means ‘live birth’. This is similar to the way that humans entern the world. The shark pup grows inside the mother before being born. The Hammerhead Shark develops this way.
There are a significant number of shark species listed as endangered because of human activity. Around 70 million sharks are killed every year. They are hunted for their fins and killed as bycatch from fishing methods such as nets and long lines. Some scientists estimate that shark numbers in our oceans have fallen by 90% in the last 30 years!
The most common threats and causes of death to sharks come from human activity such as:
Sharks like the Great White and Bull need to keep water moving over their gills to receive necessary oxygen. Sharks caught by nets and hooks and hence immobilised can die from suffocation.
The pollution of our seas by human waste and other man-made debris can result in fish being poisoned. Sharks suffer the greatest build-up of toxins because they absorb them both directly, and from the fish they prey on.
In many countries, particularly surrounding the Pacific and Indian Ocean, fishermen catch sharks for their fins. Once caught, they cut off the fins and throw the shark back in the ocean, leaving them to helplessly sink and die.
Sport & Trade
Though much smaller scale than commercial fisheries, sports fishing is another problem for sharks. Sports fishermen will often keep sets of shark jaws as trophies, and these grisly mementoes can fetch a high price in some countries.
How are SEA LIFE helping sharks?
Across the UK SEA LIFE network we currently house over 20 different species of shark ranging from native Dog Fish to Blacktips and Zebra Sharks.
SEA LIFE centres have been working hard for more than 30 years to help undo the damage that the film Jaws and other negative portrayals did to the reputation of the shark. Through our conservation events and initiatives we talk about the threats that they face.
- Adopt a Shark - Help a shark today. All profits go towards our charity the SEA LIFE Marine Conservation Trust. Your contribution will goes towards our battle of putting a stop to shark finning worldwide. Every pound, euro and dollar goes a long way.
Check out our packages now to find out more about how you can make a difference.
Shark-tagging programmes are gathering data to help inform conservation measures. This will help scientists track sharks and gather data in order to protect them.
5 ways that you can help…
1. Show your Support - SEA LIFE are continuously fighting to put a end to shark finning around the world. Help us win and contribute today by becoming a member of Shark Adoptions. Follow this link to find out more:
2. Help cut pollution – Pollution is a major killer of sea life. Make sure you buy eco-friendly products. The more often we choose these products over others, the more companies will produce.
3. Fish responsibly – If you enjoy fishing, make sure to take hooks and lines home with you as both can prove fatal to sharks and other wildlife.
4. Reduce and recycle – Throw less away and recycle as much as you can. A lot of waste goes into our seas and waste like plastic can take thousands of years to break down.
5. Eat smart – Choose to eat sustainable sea food. Overfishing of our favourite fish like tuna, cod and halibut makes it harder for sharks to find food. Try mackerel, coley and sardines instead!
Pregnant Shark Rescued by Sea Life Pair
A pregnant four-foot-long smoothound shark has been rescued from a storm drain at Portland by marine experts from Weymouth Sea Life Park.
The shark had swum into the drain at high tide and found itself trapped when the tide receded.
Coastguard officers were alerted to its presence when they spotted people trying to catch it with a line and hook baited with a mackerel head.
“He warned them off and then called four our help,” said senior aquarist Jen-Denis Hibbitt, from the Sea Life displays development department in Weymouth.
Jen-Denis and colleague Anna Russell raced to the scene and waded chest deep to catch the shark and – after checking it was okay – release it back into the sea.
“It was heavily pregnant female, probably due to give birth very soon,” said Jean-Denis.
He added that many native British sharks would be close inshore at this time of year and many would be pregnant females like this one.
He and Anna were horrified to learn someone had been trying to hook the shark, which he said had suffered minor damage to a fin as a result.
Happily the shark swam away to deeper waters where it could soon produce anything between four and 15 off-spring.
“We would naturally urge anyone else who might come across a shark in similar difficulties to help it back out to sea if possible, or call their nearest Sea Life centre for help,” said Jean-Denis.
“No-one need be afraid of them,” he added. “Few sharks, even of the big tropical species, are actually a danger to people, but certainly our native British species are all perfectly harmless.”
Smoothounds feed mainly on hermit crabs, lobsters and shrimps and grow to a maximum of about five foot.
Jaws Dropping Boost For Scientists!
A bumper haul of discarded shark gnashers from the bed of a Blackpool fish tank has delighted scientists.
A University of Birmingham research team will use the 12,000-plus shark teeth from Blackpool Sea Life Centre to perfect techniques for working out prehistoric sea temperatures using fossil shark teeth.
They hope it will shed light on sudden mass extinctions of the past and help predict the impact of global warming on future fish stocks.
“It might even shed more light on the sudden disappearance of the biggest shark that ever lived, the 60-foot-long megolodon, about 1.6 million years ago,” said Sea Life senior aquarist Martin Sutcliffe.
The Birmingham team, led by paleontologist Dr Ivan Sansom, has been working for the last year with just the few teeth collected occasionally by Sea Life scuba divers.
Now the emptying of Blackpool’s ocean display for the first time in 23 years has delivered a windfall that more than meets their research needs.
“The Centre is fitting its ocean tank with new glass and carrying out a major refurbishment and that has been fantastic news for us,” said Dr Sansom.
“We are filtering through bags of gravel from the bed of the tank and finding dozens of teeth from every species that lived in the tank in every bag,” he added.
The majority are from the Centre’s black-tipped reef sharks, a species which sheds a whole row of over 40 teeth every month, but there are also teeth from brown sharks, white-tipped, nurse sharks and many others.
“We even have dozens of teeth from sand tiger sharks, a species which has not featured in the Sea Life Centre for more than eight years,” added Dr Sansom.
Oxygen atoms in shark teeth indicate the temperature the shark lived in.
“By studying teeth from sharks whose water temperature has been carefully recorded we can refine the technique used on fossil teeth,” said Dr Sansom.
“We have already discovered that those oxygen atoms vary depending on which layer of the tooth they are found in.
“The new specimens from Blackpool will help refine research with fossil teeth to ensure the findings are reliable.”
The ultimate aim is to better understand how cooling waters in prehistoric times drove evolutionary change while warming waters led to extinctions.
“The current evidence from the past suggests we are going to see mass extinctions as our own oceans warm up,” said Dr Sansom.
Blackpool Sea Life’s tropical sharks will move back into their new-look home in March, along with more than 300 shoaling fish.