about blue sharks 2000x550 - Blue Sharks

Blue Sharks - Get to Know Them

Through June to October the South West of Cornwall is hugely attractive to blue sharks. They come here to feed on the nutrient rich waters that are unique to the area.

The blue sharks that we see in Cornwall range from 4-9ft in length, although they can grow as large as 12ft.

We see both male and female blue sharks on the south coast of Cornwall, although the majority are females and juveniles, with the females being the larger of the two sexes.

Male blue sharks tend to travel south towards tropical climates and the females and juveniles travel east to more temperate climates, seasonally moving between breeding areas in the north west Atlantic and pupping areas in the north east and north Atlantic.

Endangerment of Blue Sharks

The blue shark is heavily exploited. If commercial fishing for blue sharks continues at the current levels then this species has an uncertain future. In their last assessment, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature classed the blue shark as Near Threatened on a global basis and in European waters with a decreasing population trend.

In the Mediterranean the blue shark was labelled as Critically Endangered and the IUCN noted that there are no recovery plans or fishery management schemes in place to allow stocks to recover.

For the very first time, and based on two proposals by the EU, ICCAT, a total allowable catch limit was put in place in 2019. The TAC limit is 28,923 Tons for the southern Atlantic blue shark and of 39,100 Tons for the northern Atlantic blue shark.

Although this is ground breaking, 70,000 tons of blue shark is still extremely high, so there’s a long way to go yet.

Recent studies have provided important insights into the spatial ecology of the blue shark. Results show implications for the sustainable management of this heavily exploited shark, especially in the central North Atlantic where the presence of a nursery and the seasonal overlap and alternation of different life stages coincides with a high fishing mortality.

Geographical Distributions

Blue sharks are highly a migratory species and can be found throughout all of the world’s oceans apart from the arctic and polar regions.

Every summer blue sharks appear off the coast of Cornwall.

Travelling solitary or in small groups, they are thought to use the Gulf Stream and Atlantic gyres in order to conserve energy as they travel through the seas.

Like many other shark species, blue sharks segregate themselves into groups according to their gender and age.

Spatial segregation is a common trait in many shark species and it can change over the course of a blue sharks life. The reason behind why they segregate can also change.

This is the case for the females, which undergo changes in their movement and distribution patterns during their juvenile phase and upon reaching maturity.

Females generally take off on seasonal, looping migrations between the nursery and northern waters, while males mostly head south. Once the females hit maturity at about four years old they turned their attention to the warmer tropics.

Diet of Blue Sharks

Blue sharks are fast moving pelagic feeders. Preying mostly on herring, mackerel and squid, although they  sometimes eat larger fish such as pollock and cod.

They are also opportunistic feeders, and have been observed scavenging on dead seabirds and animals.

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