STAFF at Blue Reef Aquarium are joining a campaign to raise awareness of the threats faced by shark species in European waters.
The attraction is hosting European Shark Week, from tomorrow (Saturday) until October 23 with the hope of converting young people into shark lovers rather than shark haters.
Of the 40 shark species found in European seas, one third are threatened by intensive and illegal fishing, sport fishing and accidental capture, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The last 15 years have seen an 80 per cent drop in the shark population, and 20 per cent of the European species are on the verge of critical status for survival.
Using a mixture of exhibitions, entertaining talks, feeding demonstrations and fun activities, Shark Week aims to dispel many of the misconceptions of sharks as mindless man-eaters by showing the facts behind the fiction.
As well as coming face to face with living members of native shark species, ranging from native dogfish to an endangered angel shark, visitors to the aquarium can also visit the Shark Nursery, home to tropical banded catsharks.
There are also quizzes and competitions and displays by the Shark Trust, a UK shark conservation group.
Chris Ireland, Blue Reef co-ordinator, said: “We’re hoping that the combination of babies, fun quizzes and shark talks will help to provide our visitors with a different view of these much-maligned predators.”
British waters are visited by around 30 different species, including the world’s second largest, the basking shark, which can grow to 12 metres.