World's deadliest sharks could be heading for Irish seas as waters warm
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World's deadliest sharks could be heading for Irish seas as waters warm

SOME of the world's deadliest sharks could soon be cutting their teeth in Irish waters due to warming seas, according to experts.

A new study by Dr Ken Collins, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, found that rising sea temperatures will encourage predators which have previously avoided colder shores to relocate.

At least ten new shark species are predicted to become regular visitors to Irish and British waters by 2050 - including black tips, sand tigers and hammerheads - with global warming allowing them to move further and further north.

Dr Collins, a former member of the UK Shark Tagging Programme, said: "It’s likely we will be seeing more sharks spread from warmer regions such as the Mediterranean Sea towards our waters over the next 30 years.

"These include the likes of blacktips, sand tigers and hammerheads, which are currently found swimming off the coasts of Spain and Portugal".

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He added: "Though while the potential number of shark species 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.

"It’s really important we work together to prevent a premature extinction of these wonderful creatures."

Great White Hopes

The most notorious of all Selachimorpha (shark) species, the great white, could also find its global range affected by climate change, but Dr Collins says its future is less certain.

He explained: "There is considerable debate as to whether we have great white sharks in UK waters.

"I see no reason why not – they live in colder waters off South Africa and have a favourite food source, seals, along the Cornish coast.

"The only argument against there being great white sharks in our waters is that numbers worldwide are declining so the chances of seeing one around the UK fall year by year."

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An estimated 10 million small and 100,000 larger sharks from 40 different species are found in waters around the UK and Ireland, most famously the plankton-eating basking shark.

A recent poll by Nat Geo WILD found four in 10 people held an irrational fear of sharks while swimming in the sea, while more than eight out of 10 thought the species had been given a bad reputation by Hollywood.