Sharks in the UK and Where to Find Them

Sharks in the UK and Where to Find Them

Did you know that there are at least 21 species of shark that can be found in British waters all year round and is also a number of other species that are seasonal or occasional visitors during the warmer months?

With the exception of a few species like the small coastal catsharks, encounters are generally few and far between but between April and October some of our bigger seasonal sharks like the Basking Shark start to arrive and are a big attraction.

If you are interested in learning more about our shark species you can find a wealth of information them on the Shark Trust website.

Where to find them

Most bigger shark and other large marine life sightings are along the west coast of the UK. Migrating sea life is drawn to our shores during spring and summer as warmer water from the Atlantic moves into our coastal waters, giving the marine life a productivity boost. As the warm and cool waters meet the deep nutrient rich layers are brought up which causes our phytoplankton blooms and the huge increase in zooplankton which is the preferred diet of Basking Sharks.


Cornwall is very well known for dolphins but between May and October is a good time to spot basking sharks, blue sharks and possibly even a porbeagle shark on its coastline too. Encounters whilst scuba diving are pretty slim as basking sharks are surface feeders so either head inshore around bays for a spot of snorkelling or shore diving. I have been lucky enough to come across one whilst freediving and foraging a shallow cove.

Alternatively there are plenty of local operators that offer dolphin and shark watching trips.


Blue, Thresher and Basking Sharks can be found off the coast of Dorset during the summer months and there are even sightings of minke whales, common dolphins, porpoises and sunfish.

There are plenty boat and tour operators that know all the best spots to head to if you fancy a trip or why not have a change and hire a kayak and explore the coast that way.


Cardigan Bay has loads of dolphins as well as basking sharks, and a number of whale species including minke, fin and possibly even an orca. During the late summer months you can also find leatherback turtles that arrive for the jellyfish. There have been reports of Thresher shark in the area too but they prefer deeper water.

Isle of Man

The Isle of Man coastline is a big hotspot for Basking Sharks between May and August as it is positioned in the middle of one of the main migration routes. Sightseeing and diving trips are regularly run during this time.

Hebrides, Scotland

With humpback whales, sea birds and dolphins in abundance, the west coast of Scotland is one of the UK’s richest spots for marine wildlife – and in spring and summer you’ll likely find basking sharks too. Most trips sail from Oban, Mull and Skye, skirting the spectacular isles to popular feeding sites – where you can swim and snorkel with the sharks, or simply watch them from the boat.