Porbeagle sharks (Lamna nasus) are Critically Endangered in Europe and the North East Atlantic due to overfishing. They’re in the same family as great white and mako sharks which means that they are fast swimming and are warm bodied. They can grow up to 3m in length, and are a truly beautiful shark that feeds on fish and squid. To squish any fears about bites from the get-go – they’re not interested in people. They’re a notoriously shy species that much prefers mackerel!
Porgies in Dorset
Relatively little is known about porbeagle numbers around the UK. Dorset is increasingly becoming recognised as a hotspot for the species, where local recreational fishers are reporting increases in catches over recent years. Porbeagle, affectionately called “porgies”, are a seasonal visitor to the UK during summer months, though they may be sticking around for longer than previously thought. To the best of our knowledge, no data are currently being collected on this aggregation, and the number of individual sharks, and their sex and size is consequently unrecorded. These data could provide information important for their management, as well as an excellent opportunity for public education and engagement on a local shark species.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, we’re delighted to have won funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for this project. We’re teaming up with conservation-minded recreational fishing charter boat Big Buoy Charters. This company has strict policies that promote shark welfare and already contributes to the national shark tagging database run by the Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network. We’ll be joining some of Big Buoy Charter’s shark fishing trips and using 3D camera technology (stereophotogrammetry) to collect data on shark sex, size and individual identification. We’ll also be running several public engagement events to showcase porbeagles and alter the usually negative public perception of sharks.
End of project update:
We employed the wonderful Georgina Roberts as our Porbeagle Project Officer on a six month contract. After working hard to calibrate the stereophotogrammetry equipment, Georgina participated in two trips before disaster struck. The Big Buoy boat was broken into and a lot of their vital equipment was stolen. This was a major set-back, then followed by weeks of horrendous weather. We re-deployed Georgina to a more accessible form of data gathering (thank you internet) and she worked extremely hard to put together a whopping 10 year dataset on local shark catches. These valuable data will be used for multiple purposes.