How We Can Protect the Endangered Species in Scotland’s Oceans

19 May, 2017

Looking after our oceans is vital. With the changing climate, overfishing, littered waters, and fumes and chemicals polluting oceans around the globe, it’s never been more essential to take care of our natural waters.
These factors are all having a big impact on the habitats of many sea creatures, from freshwater fish to sharks. At Deep Sea World, we take conservation very seriously, which is why we’d love for you to get involved and help protect your local shores. There are a number of things you can do:
● Always put your rubbish in the bin rather than littering – wherever you are
● Lower your waste consumption and recycle as much as you can
● Try to travel by foot, bicycle, or public transport to reduce your car footprint
● Buy sustainable seafood from responsible fishmongers (look for MSC certification on packaging)
In Scotland, many sea creatures are sadly in danger of extinction. By making small changes to your lifestyle, you can help take care of these species.

Angel Shark

Critically endangered in oceans around the world, angel sharks are now extinct within the North Sea. Plenty of regulations are in place to protect the remaining population: fishing of the sharks is prohibited in three Balearic Island marine reserves, and they are listed under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act, offering them legal protection against killing, injuring, or taking on land and up to 3 nautical miles from the coast.
There are plenty of fascinating facts about these very rare species, though. Incredibly, a female angel shark can give birth to as many as 25 babies in one litter, all of which are capable of feeding themselves. They’re nocturnal animals, burying themselves deep into sandy or muddy seabeds to hide from the daylight – it is this sleeping pattern that sadly leaves them prey to trawl fishing.
Deep Sea World is part of a collaborative angel shark breeding project with Blue Reef Aquarium Hastings. Together, we’re working to increase the number of angel sharks in UK captivity, and to protect the status of the species in the wild.

Harbour Seal

Did you know that 85% of the UK population of harbour seals live in Scottish seas? You might spot our beloved blubbery friends along the Scottish coastlines. Naturally inquisitive creatures, seals are usually playful when encountered by scuba divers in the water, but they can be shy when they’re on land.
Due to oil leaks and spills, many harbour seals have been poisoned in recent years, resulting in long-term health impacts and even deaths. Also, some coastal areas are heavily fished, causing a number of seals to be trapped in the fishing gear. These events have led to declining numbers in Shetland, Orkney, and Scotland’s east coast.
We have our very own seal enclosure at Deep Sea World, to make sure all of our seals are well looked after. Come and visit these friendly creatures and watch them swim!

Basking Shark

Visiting UK waters between April and October each year, basking sharks are often mistaken for deadly sea creatures – but they’re actually harmless to humans. The sharks get their name from their habit of moving slowly along the sea surface to feed on plankton, giving the impression that they are basking in the sun.
Sadly, the sharks have been exploited for centuries, supplying oil for lighting and industrial use, their skin for leather, and their flesh for food. Thanks to lobbying from the MCS (Marine Conservation Society), it’s now illegal to hunt basking sharks in UK waters, and the population is reportedly on the up.

Common Skate

Don’t be fooled by the name – the common skate is far from ordinary. This sea creature is critically endangered, with the highest populations being reported in North West Scotland, the Shetland Isles, and the Celtic Sea. Decades of overfishing have damaged the seabeds that the skates call home. As the largest species of skate, their size also causes them to get easily trapped in fishing nets (they can grow up to a whopping 280 centimetres or 9.2 feet long).
Despite their low numbers, it’s believed that the common skate can live for more than 100 years – an incredible lifespan for a creature that’s thought to have dated back to the Jurassic era. Magically, baby skates hatch from an egg case that is referred to as a “Mermaid’s Purse”.

Protect Scotland’s Oceans

If you’re interested in learning more about conservation, our guides and aquarists will be happy to answer any of your questions. At Deep Sea World – Scotland’s National Aquarium – we use only natural Scottish seawater from the Firth of Forth to help our conservation efforts. The water’s essential minerals ensure a healthy and stable lifestyle for all of the sea creatures in our displays. And, by using sea water, we can conserve energy, helping to reduce our carbon footprint.
Book your tickets to visit all of our fishy friends. With daily talks and feeds, there’s always something exciting going on here.

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