Nearly a dozen species of sharks currently found in warmer waters could be swimming in British seas within the next three decades as the climate changes, according to research by the University of Southampton.
By 2050, 10 species are expected to migrate to Britain’s colder waters as seawater temperatures heat up, including blacktip and hammerhead sharks currently found off the coasts of Portugal and Spain.
Sea surface temperatures increased by an average of 0.07°C (0.13°F) per decade during the last century, according to information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency. What's more, global sea temperatures are predicted to increase by 1.2 to 3.2°C (2.2-5.8°F) by 2100, according to a UK Government Office for Science report.
Currently, 40 species of sharks are found in the ocean around the UK, but just because sharks are heading north doesn’t necessarily mean the waters will be teeming with them. Numbers of sharks already found in UK waters are dropping due to issues like over-fishing.
"Though 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,” said study leader Dr Ken Collins, adding that it’s important to “work together to prevent a premature extinction of these wonderful creatures.”
A part of helping sharks thrive involves changing their image. A poll of 2,000 British adults found that 40 percent of people admit to having an “irrational fear of sharks” and more than 80 percent believe sharks have been given a bad reputation by Hollywood.
Here's a quick glimpse at the 10 species that could soon call UK waters home.
Great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran)
Blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus)
Sand tiger or spotted ragged-tooth (Carcharias taurus)
Bigeye thresher (Alopias superciliosus)
Longfin mako (Isurus paucus)
Bronze whaler (Carcharhinus brachyurus)
Oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus)
Silky (Carcharhinus falciformis)
Dusky (Carcharhinus obscurus)
Goblin (Mitsukurina owstoni)