Are There Sharks In Brighton? (Brighton Beach UK)

Brighton is a beautiful seaside town about an hour south of London. Although shark attacks in the area are almost inexistent, it does not mean that there are no sharks in the area. Plus, the city known for its lovely beaches, game rooms, and nightlife has one of the craziest shark attack stories I have ever seen.

In total, there are 40 species of sharks in Brighton, 21 of them year-round. However, shark attacks are almost inexistent in this area. The most common sharks in Brighton are Blue Sharks, Porbeagles, Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, Shortfin Mako Sharks, Threshers, Smooth Hammerheads, and Basking Sharks.

Have you ever wondered how it would be to be hunted after by a gigantic shark? Well, in this article, you’ll find a famous letter written in 1785 to “The Morning Herald,” detailing how a man was almost killed by a Tiger Shark, and after killing the animal, there were human remains inside. Also, I’ve prepared a species guide and a full section listing all the incidents with sharks ever registered in UK and Brighton.

“On opening its stomach, the entire head of a man was found in it.” Keep reading for the full story and the complete letter.

Are There Sharks In Brighton UK?

Are There Sharks In Brighton?
Are There Sharks In Brighton? (Brighton Beach UK)

British waters, including Brighton, are chock-full of sharks, including some of the biggest and most dangerous on Earth. However, it’s very unlikely to encounter one, and that’s why sometimes people think that there are no sharks in the Brighton area.

There are at least 40 species of sharks living in Brighton, 21 through the entire year. Incidents with sharks, however, are super rare. The most common species of sharks in Brighton are:

  • Blue Sharks
  • Porbeagles
  • Oceanic Whitetip Sharks
  • Shortfin Mako Sharks
  • Threshers
  • Smooth Hammerheads
  • Basking Sharks

These sharks are the most common in the area but not the only ones. There are probably even more species than the 40 already registered in Brighton, as it’s hard to keep track of the marine life crossing the seas. With 400+ sharks through the oceans on Earth, it’s entirely possible that some unusual species to the British waters may have come to a visit now and then.

Related Article: Are There Sharks In The English Channel? (Full Guide)

Sharks In Brighton: Controversial Recent Sighting

Just because you can’t see a shark, it doesn’t mean they’re not there. Brighton may not be a hotspot for shark sightings, but footage of a huge one emerged on Instagram a few weeks ago. Specialists differed in identifying the species of the beautiful animal, but apparently, it is a Basking Shark.

The Basking Shark is the second-largest living shark (after the Whale Shark) and can grow up to 12 meters long (40 ft). Despite their gigantic size, they are not considered dangerous to the passive observer and are generally tolerant of divers and boats. However, according to the Florida Museum, caution must be exercised.

“Its sheer size and power must be respected (there are reports of sharks attacking boats after being harpooned). In addition, contact with its skin should be avoided, as its large dermal denticles have been known to inflict damage on divers and scientists.”

After the video got viral, some suggested that it was a Porbeagle Shark, which is quite possible as its one of the most prominent species in UK waters. Some even went further, claiming to be a Bull Shark, one of the most aggressive and dangerous species, with the incredible ability to adapt to fresh and salt water. As this species is uncommon in Brighton, it’s very unlikely to be a Bull Shark in the video.

Incredible Tiger Shark Attack Story In Brighton

Some stories from the past have the potential to continue to terrify us even years later. This is the case with the story of the only death from a shark incident to be recorded in Brighton. In 1785, after some locals had killed a 12-ft Tiger Shark, human remains were found inside the animal.

As expected, the story quickly reverberated, and one of the people who witnessed the scene wrote to a newspaper a few days later. So, rather than telling the story, I leave it to the letter itself so you can read it in full. This letter was sent to ‘The Morning Herald’ newspaper from Brighthelmstone dated September 26th, 1785:

“A gentleman a few days ago was bathing a little below the (bathing) machines, and being very calm, he imprudently ventured further into the sea than what is customary. He had not been long diverting himself in the water, before he heard a noise, and discovered the fins of a fish above the surface of the water, which he soon perceived approached him very fast. Alarmed at this, he hastened out of the water, and had scarcely reached the shore, when a large tiger shark plunged after him with that violence, that it forced itself entirely out of the water on dry land. The shark, thus out of its element, had no power of retreating; and the gentleman who providentially escaped, recovering from his fright, collected a number of people, who with hatchets attacked this ferocious creature and killed it. On opening its stomach, the entire head of a man was found in it, not otherwise altered than being very soft and pappy, and the flesh and scalp entirely separating from the bone on touching it. The stomach was half an inch thick, and the shark was twelve feet in length from its head to its tail.”

Some say that the story is a myth and it was impossible for a Tiger Shark to be in the area, but the scientist of GSAF (Global Shark Attack File) disagree. In their file, this incident was confirmed, and it’s in the file as the only unprovoked fatal shark attack ever registered in Brighton. The investigator on this case was C. Moore, a GSAF team member.

Related Article: Are There Sharks In Barcelona? (Detailed Guide)

Sharks In Brighton: The Most Common Species

Out of the 40 types of sharks that can be found in British waters, 21 are year-round dwellers. The most common species are listed in the table below, but they are not limited to it.

  • Total Number of Shark Species In Brighton: 40
  • Number of Species Found Year-Round: 21
  • Most Frequently Seen: Porbagles
  • Most Dangerous/Aggressive Species: Oceanic Whitetip Shark
  • Biggest Sharks Found In Barcelona: Basking Sharks

According to Discovery UK, “other types of sharks in the UK include many species of dogfish and catshark, frilled shark, bramble sharks, kitefin sharks, gulper sharks, spurdogs, topes, and the wonderfully named starry smooth-hound shark. However, the more surprising sharks in the UK tend to be found further north. One of the most remarkable sharks in Scotland is the incredible basking shark, the second largest fish in the world. It grows to 12 meters and can weigh a staggering nine tonnes.”

SpeciesScientific NameMax SizeAggressiveness
Blue SharkPrionace glaucaUp to 4 m
(13 ft)
Not Aggressive
(Curious, Approach Humans)
PorbeaglesLamna nasusUp to 3.6 m
(12 ft)
Not Aggressive
(Potentially Dangerous)
Oceanic Whitetip SharkCarcharhinus longimanusUp to 4 m
(13 ft)
Very Aggressive
Shortfin Mako SharkIsurus oxyrinchusUp to 4 m
(13 ft)
Not Aggressive
(Potentially Dangerous)
ThreshersAlopias vulpinusUp to 7.6 m
(25 ft)
Not Aggressive
Smooth Hammerhead SharkSphyrna zygaena Up to 5 m
(16 ft)
(Potentially Dangerous)
Basking SharkCetorhinus maximusUp to 12 m
(40 ft)
Not Aggressive

Are There Great Whites In Brighton?

Well, it’s unlikely to have the incredible (and terrifying) encounter with a Great White in UK waters. There have been hundreds of claimed sightings of the most notorious predator in the ocean.

The White Shark is the most feared, and for a good reason: it has been credited with more fatal attacks on humans than any other species of shark. This is due primarily to its size, power, and feeding behavior. And as oceans are connected, and the conditions in the UK not being too bad for the species, it’s not impossible for there to have been a Great White Shark in Brighton. Actually, scientists believe the great white may be an occasional visitor.

However, to this day, there is no concrete and irrefutable evidence of Great Whites in British Waters, and most of the sightings are probably a case of mistaken identity with Basking Sharks or Porbeagles (cousin to the Great Whites).

Shark Attacks In Brighton: All Incidents

There are 40 incidents with sharks registered in the United Kingdom. There are two types of shark interaction, provoked and unprovoked. Unprovoked incidents are incredibly rare, and it’s easier to be hit by lightning twice than to be attacked by a shark (unless you provoke them as the idiots that died trying to explode a shark, as shown in the table below).

Species involved in most incidents in the UK: Blue Sharks (followed by Makos and Porbeagles)

Fun Fact: Threshers are timid and considered harmless, but if sometimes people go crazy, why sharks wouldn’t, right? In the incidents report, I’ve found this funny story of a time when a 13 feet Thresher Shark leaped aboard a boat and hurt two fishermen. Just imagine the scene, you’re in the middle of the ocean, and a 4-meter shark jumps on your ship. Thankfully, the injuries were minor, but the trauma… Well, I can only imagine.

In the following table, you can check all the shark attack data registered in the United Kingdom. All of the data on this site comes from the Global Shark Attack File (GSAF), a spreadsheet of human/shark interactions compiled by the Shark Research Institute.

DateAreaLocationActivityIncident TypeFatal?
UnknownSussexHastingsRowing an inflatable dinghyBoatingNo
26 Sept 1785SussexBrightonHuman remains recovered from sharkUnprovokedYes
01 May 1812DevonMill BaySwimmingUnprovokedNo
16 Sept 1845Area unknownUnknownUnprovokedNo
01 Jul 1848NorfolkHunstantonStandingUnprovokedNo
21 Jun 1856Isle of WightColwell BaySwimmingUnprovokedNo
01 Sept 1864EdinburghGrantonUnprovokedNo
01 Jan 1876SussexUnknownUnprovokedNo
19 Sept 1907English ChannelUnknownSwimmingInvalidNo
01 Sept 1921DorsetWeymouthFishingProvokedNo
26 Sept 1922East YorkshireHornseaSwimmingUnprovokedYes
14 Jul 1924DorsetWeymouthFishing for mackerelProvokedNo
03 Sept 1925Isle of WightOff ShanklinFishingUnprovokedNo
24 Aug 1935Isle of WightAtherfieldFishingInvalidNo
01 Sept 1937ArgyllCarradale BayRowingUnprovokedNo
11 Sept 1937ArranFallen RocksFishingBoatingNo
12 Sept 1937ArgyllshireArranPleasure boatingBoatingNo
06 Oct 1954Isle of ManOff FleetwoodFishing (trawling)ProvokedNo
01 Aug 1956CornwallThe LizardAttempting to kill a shark with explosivesProvokedYes
01 Aug 1956CornwallThe LizardAttempting to kill a shark with explosivesProvokedYes
04 Aug 1960English ChannelDevon CoastHelping angler land a sharkProvokedNo
30 Sept 1962Grand Turk IslandLong CaySpearfishingUnprovokedNo
01 Apr 1967GibraltarUnknownFishingProvokedNo
01 Jun 1968Area unknownUnknownUnprovokedNo
27 Jul 1969Area unknownUnknownProvokedNo
09 Jan 1970DevonTeignmouthAttempted to return injured shark to the seaUnprovokedNo
01 Jun 1971South DevonBeesandsScuba divingUnprovokedNo
15 Jun 1981Area unknownIsle of WightFishingBoatingNo
14 Feb 2000WorcestershireTenbury WellsFeeding prawns to captive sharksProvokedNo
13 Sept 2001CheshireBlue Planet AquariumDivingProvokedNo
06 Aug 2002CheshireBlue Planet AquariumDivingProvokedNo
17 May 2007KentFolkestoneFishingProvokedNo
02 Jun 2008Easter RossBalintore BayFishingBoatingNo
30 Aug 2008North DevonLundy IslandFishingProvokedNo
02 Oct 2009DevonMewstone RockFishingProvokedNo
17 Oct 2009FifeDeep Sea AquariumDivingProvokedNo
14 Jun 2011CornwallSt. IvesFishingBoatingNo
28 Oct 2011MoraySpey BaySurfingUnprovokedNo
31 Aug 2012Inner HebridesIsle of IslayShark fishingProvokedNo
10 Dec 2016SuffolkFelixstoweWindsurfingUnprovokedNo

Related Questions

Are there sharks near Brighton? There are about 40 species of sharks near Brighton, but only 21 are year-round dwellers. The most common species in Brighton are Blue Sharks, Porbeagles, Oceanic Whitetip Sharks, Shortfin Mako Sharks, Threshers, Smooth Hammerheads, and Basking Sharks.

Could a great white survive in UK waters? There’s no official proof, but Great Whites probably visit UK waters from time to time. They are not usual, but it’s not impossible for there to have been a Great White shark in British waters. Finally, scientists believe they may be occasional visitors.

Do blue sharks bite humans? Blue sharks only bite humans by mistake, and unprovoked incidents are rare. Relatively unaggressive but curious, they tend to approach humans, especially when food is available. According to the ISAF, the Blue Shark is responsible for 13 unprovoked shark bites worldwide.


André Bonassoli

What’s up guys. I’m André, and I've been passionate about Sharks for as long as I can remember! I’ve created this site to share different things with you that I’ve learned and am constantly learning. Whether you're just here with some simple questions or you're passionate about Sharks as well, I'm glad you're here!

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