Why Did 50 Dead Sharks Wash Up On This Welsh Beach?

Two (of many) dead sharks found on a south Wales beach yesterday. It is believed the sharks were killed by becoming ensnared in fishing equipment, then dumped back into the sea. Wales News Service

A tourist couple strolling the sands of Rhossili Bay made a gruesome discovery on May 28 when they reportedly came upon the carcasses of 50 or more sharks.

According to Wales Online, the Berkshire-based Laura Campbell and her boyfriend became concerned after spotting an initial handful of dead sharks washed up on the southern Wales beach at around 4 pm. The emotion quickly escalated to disgust after they realized the magnitude of the event.


“We carried on walking and saw more sharks every metre or so. I think there were more than 50 in total,” Laura Campbell said.

A shark carcasses bearing what appears to be fishing line, as discovered by Campbell. Wales News Service

“One of the sharks had a piece of fishing wire going through it and fishing gear had been left on the ground.”

“It looked like some of it had been there for a while and had been washed up in the tide. It was disgusting to see and it was very upsetting.”

Ms Campbell believes the sharks were killed or critically injured after becoming ensnared in fishing lines or nets, then the collected carcasses were dumped back into the water. Knowing that sharks are supposed to be protected from such a fate by local laws, she claims to have called the tipped off the local authorities in order to investigate.

Wales News Service

Several outlets have since reported that the Natural Resources Wales is now investigating, yet the environmental agency told IFLScience that such matters do not fall under their jurisdiction.

As of now, no official identification of the shark species has been made.


It is estimated that humans kill between 100 million and 273 million sharks per year. Infuriatingly, most of these deaths are the result of fin harvesting or fishing boat by-catch rather than outright fishing, meaning that most or all of the shark goes to waste. The ongoing unsustainable decimation of sharks – and their cousins, the rays – has driven more than 30 percent of all species to endangered, threatened, or vulnerable levels. The problem is exacerbated by their inability to bounce back due to slow reproductive rates.

Thanks to recent conservation lobbying efforts, many nations have implemented strict moratoriums on finning and seasonal fishing limits. Enforcing these laws, however, is quite difficult, and poachers are motivated by the high value of shark fins in many Asian countries.

Even if you are terrified of sharks, this crisis should concern you. As apex predators, shark species play a crucial role in maintaining the balance and health of their ecosystems – aka the food webs that provide sustenance for about 3 billion people worldwide.

Currently, UK law forbids the capture, killing, transport, or possession of basking sharks or angel sharks in waters up to 200 nautical miles from the coast of the UK. EU conservation policies protect a much longer list of rays and sharks (pages 12 to 13 here) in Union waters.


Any animals that are accidentally caught are to be treated gently and promptly released.