Porbeagle shark

Porbeagle shark

Porbeagle © Doug Perrine

Porbeagle shark

Scientific name: Lamna nasus
The porbeagle shark is a member of the shark family Lamnidae, making it one of the closest living relatives of the great white shark.

Species information


Length: Up to 365cm
Weight: Up to 230kg
Average Lifespan: Can live for over 50 years

Conservation status

Porbeagle sharks are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and is a Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

June to October


This large shark is usually found in deeper water, where it hunts a variety of smaller fish including mackerel, whiting and herring, as well as octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

They are strong swimmers and tagging studies have shown that they can travel huge distances. One porbeagle shark tagged in Irish waters was later found as far away as Newfoundland in Canada!

Porbeagle sharks are endothermic, which means they can maintain a higher body temperature and keep themselves warmer than the surrounding water. This is a big advantage for them as it allows them to live and hunt in colder seas than many other sharks.

How to identify

The porbeagle shark is a brilliant ‘mackerel’ blue with a white belly and characteristic white mark at the rear base of the dorsal fin. It is a robust but streamlined shark with a pointed snout and large black eyes without protective lids.

In our area

The Porbeagle shark inhabits the deep waters off the north side of Rathlin Island and around Malin Head, and can also be found around many of the WWII wrecks off Culdaff. Porbeagle are found on all coasts around Ireland but are most common north of Lough Swilly in Donegal and also coasts of Galway, Clare and Cork. Because of their preference for deep water, you have to be very lucky to see one of them! Especially because they are categorised as Critically Endangered in our waters by the IUCN Red List. They are on the NI Priority Species list, therefore we hope to provide evidence through the Sea Deep project to ensure spatial protections for them.


Found around all UK coasts, as well as in temperate waters world-wide (excluding the North Pacific).

Did you know?

The porbeagle shark is often mistaken for the great white shark, leading to claims of great white sharks in UK waters. However, the great white has never been recorded in UK seas. Porbeagle sharks are half the size of a great white shark.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts are working with sea users, scientists, politicians and local people towards a vision of 'Living Seas', where marine wildlife thrives. Do your bit for our Living Seas by supporting your local Wildlife Trust or checking out our Action Pages.