Worldwide, there are at least 453 species of sharks and over 500 species of skates and rays. A wide variety of sharks and rays also inhabit Irish waters, including 39 species of sharks and 28 species of skates and rays. Members of this diverse group can be found in all our seas, ranging from shallow estuaries down to depths of 2000m or more in the Atlantic.
Most shark and ray species are small and harmless to humans. About half of the world’s sharks reach less than 1m in length and 80% are smaller than an adult human. There is always a lot of media attention when people are injured by sharks or rays, but in reality, the vast majority of species pose no threat to humans and the chance of an attack is very small. In fact, recent studies have shown that more people are killed each year worldwide by defective toasters than by sharks!