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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Great White Shark

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In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.


This supreme apex predator is perfectly adapted to their environment. With a large torpedo shaped body and powerful tail they’re truly built for speed. At top speed they can reach up to 25mph.

White Sharks belong to a group of sharks (known as the mackerel sharks) who have a remarkable adaptation that enables them to retain warmth. This makes them much more efficient hunters.

Sharks lose a lot of heat through their gills, where blood vessels are exposed to the cooler water. To minimise heat loss mackerel sharks have a network of tiny capillaries which act as a heat exchange system (known as a rete mirabile). Blood vessels carrying warm deoxygenated blood to the gills pass alongside cold oxygenated blood going to the body. As they pass in opposite directions heat is exchanged and returned to the muscles.

Amazingly the body temperature of mackerel sharks can be 10°C higher than the surrounding water.

White Sharks vary in colour (from olive to brown or grey) with a white underbelly, which is what is thought to have given them their name. This counter shading acts as camouflage. Concealed from above and below, they’re able to sneak up on unsuspecting prey.

When turned on their back, White Sharks enter a trance-like state known as tonic immobility. It’s thought that being upside down disorientates them, causing this unusual response. The behaviour could be related to mating but nobody knows for sure.

In some cases Orca have figured out how to use this to their advantage. Off the coast of California they’ve been seen preying on White Sharks, pinning them upside down. Unable to respond, the shark suffocates and is then eaten.

As a top predator White Sharks play a key role in keeping our oceans healthy. They do this by keeping other populations in check and preying on the sick and old. This prevents the spread of disease and helps to improve the gene pool.

Scientists estimate that White Sharks can live 70 years or more. Making them one of the longest-living sharks!

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Carcharodon carcharias
  • FAMILY: Lamnidae (Mackerel Sharks)
  • MAXIMUM SIZE: 6m
  • DIET: They have a varied diet including, fish, sharks, rays, sea mammals and birds. They’re also opportunistic feeders and will scavenge on dead whales.
  • DISTRIBUTION: Widespread but mostly found in temperate seas. Hot spots include: South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Northeast US, California and the Pacific coast of Mexico.
  • HABITAT: Shallow and coastal waters. They also travel across the open ocean, at depths of 0-300m. Commonly aggregate around rocky reefs near colonies of seals, sea lions, and walruses.
  • CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable

Love White Sharks? Find out more about this mighty ocean predator and support vital White Shark research by adopting a White Shark today by clicking here.

The Shark Trust is the leading UK-based shark conservation charity. The team works globally to safeguard the future of sharks, and their close cousins, the skates and rays. Engaging with a global network of scientists, policymakers, conservation professionals, businesses and supporters, to further shark conservation. Established in 1997 to provide a voice for UK sharks, the Shark Trust has an ever-growing number of passionate supporters. And together we're creating positive change for sharks around the world. Want to join us and help protect sharks around the world? Click here! www.sharktrust.org

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Creature Feature: Porbeagle

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In this series, the Shark Trust will be sharing amazing facts about different species of sharks and what you can do to help protect them.

This time we’re showcasing the robust Porbeagle, one of the only known sharks that may love to play..

Shaped like a rugby ball, this muscular stocky shark is incredibly hydrodynamic and built for endurance. Dark grey-blue in colour with a white belly, they have a pointed snout and large black eyes.

Porbeagle’s belong to an elite group of sharks known as the mackerel sharks. These include some of the most powerful and agile sharks in the world, such as the White Shark and Shortfin Mako. This group are endothermic, so can keep themselves nice and warm, due to a remarkable adaptation known as a rete mirabile. This makes them more efficient hunters and able to tolerate colder waters.

Porbeagle’s look a lot like White Sharks, so are often mistaken for them. As they’re found in UK waters, this has led to many false reports of White Sharks in the UK. But Porbeagle’s are around half the size. Although still a large shark, the biggest Porbeagle on record is 3.6m. While the largest White Shark is 6m.

Found worldwide in cold-temperate waters, Porbeagle’s are strong swimmers. Travelling thousands of miles in search of food and to give birth. One individual, tagged in Irish waters, journeyed over 2,000 miles to Newfoundland in Canada. A known mating ground for Porbeagle’s.

Porbeagle’s may live on their own, or in small groups made up of similar sized or same sex individuals. With males and females coming together usually in September-November to mate. Yet in some places this can take place in January.

These sharks reproduce slowly, so are extremely vulnerable to destructive fishing. Females take 12-16 years to reach sexual maturity, males 6-10 years. After 8-9 months, females will give birth to litters of just 1-5 pups, which are relatively large at 60-80cm long.

Two distinct populations exist – the north Atlantic and south Pacific. Individuals from these areas don’t seem to mix, resulting in key differences. North Atlantic Porbeagle’s get a lot bigger, and don’t tend to live as long as those in the south Pacific.

During the day Porbeagles tend to spend their time in deeper waters, rising to the surface at night. They’re opportunistic feeders, mostly eating small fish – such as mackerel, whiting and herring – as well as octopus, squid and cuttlefish.

Highly inquisitive, Porbeagles have been seen chasing each other, rolling at the surface, and even pushing around floating objects and kelp. Could they be playing? Currently there are no scientific studies to back this up. But what an interesting study that would be…!

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lamna nasus
  • FAMILY: Mackerel Sharks (Lamnidae)
  • MAXIMUM SIZE: 3.6m
  • DIET: Small fish & squid
  • DISTRIBUTION: Wide-ranging in temperate waters (except North Pacific).
  • HABITAT: Coastal and oceanic waters from 0-1,800m deep. Prefers temperatures below 18°C but can tolerate -1–23°C.
  • CONSERVATION STATUS: Vulnerable

For more amazing facts about sharks and what you can do to help the Shark Trust protect them visit the Shark Trust website by clicking here.

Header Image: Doug Perrine / Alamy

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Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Top Destinations to dive with Manta Rays

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In their mission to create a billion Torchbearers to explore and protect the ocean, PADI is encouraging divers to seek adventure and experience first-hand the vital eco-systems below the surface of the ocean.

To further raise awareness of this mission on International Manta Ray Day (17 September 2021), PADI has rounded up the top destinations in the world that are currently open to divers.

Machadilla National Park, Isla de la Plata, Ecuador

Diving in Ecuador offers a special paradise for scuba divers, in which the chance of encountering marine species nowhere else on earth is extremely high due to the heavy currents and nutrient rich waters. And for those keen to dive with manta rays, head out with PADI 5 Star Dive Center Exploramar Diving, or PADI 5 Star Dive Center Mares Ecuador here they take divers out to Machadilla National Park in Isla de la Plata for a chance to greet these graceful creatures every July to September.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Ecuador

Kona, Big Island, Hawaii

Hawaii’s volcanic origins and isolated geographical location makes for a whirlwind of scuba diving encounters underwater, with manta ray encounters being likely all year long. For those looking for an extra special experience,  PADI 5 Star Dive Center Jack’s Diving Locker offers a manta ray night dive and a PADI Distinctive Specialty Course called Manta Ray Diver, which covers everything from the manta ray anatomy to cleaning habits, reproduction and how to identify individual rays in the local population.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Hawaii

Bryon Bay, Australia

For those who are currently in Australia, they can have their backyard manta ray encounter with PADI 5 Star Dive Center Sundive Byron Bay. The summer months of December to May bring manta rays to the nearby Julia Rocks Marine Reserve, which National Geographic once acknowledged as one of the top 20 dives in the world.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Australia

Manta Point, Nusa Penida, Bali

The name speaks for itself. Manta Point in Bali is a haven for manta rays all year long, with the best time to see them being from April to May. PADI 5 Star Dive Center and Resort  Scuba Junkie Penida  offers the ultimate manta ray diving experience in the area, adding coral dives and drift dives to the day’s adventure.

Find out more with PADI’ Dive Guide for Bali

Komodo National Park, Labuan Bajo, Indonesia

One of Indonesia’s most famous diving destinations is also one of the best places to dive with manta rays! PADI 5 Star Dive Resort Blue Marlin Komodo is the perfect place for a manta ray holiday, where divers can stay at the dive resort while getting their PADI Open Water Diver certification and then hop aboard their dive vessel for a day of diving out at sea with manta rays!

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Indonesia

Six Senses Manta Point, Laamu Atoll, Maldives

Crystal clear warm waters, white sandy beaches and manta rays—PADI 5 Star Dive Resort Six Senses Laamu offers the ultimate luxurious manta ray holiday. As the only dive resort in the Laamu Atoll, divers of all levels will have extremely personable encounters with manta rays every month of the year in this world-class diving area.  There are also more than 180 PADI Dive Centers and Resorts in the Maldives that can take divers out to have a manta ray encounter.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for the Maldives

Azores, Portugal

The islands that make up the Azores off the coast of Portugal are one of the most diverse for marine life. One  specific type of manta rays known as the Mobula birostris is known tohang out in large groups around the island of St. Maria between June and October, with PADI 5 Star Haliotis Dive Center offering guided boat trips to the island.

Find out more with PADI’s Dive Guide for Portugal

Diving with whale sharks and manta rays can make a difference in protecting these incredible species for future generations – dive tourism encourages protection from local communities and governments. But its important to always adhere to local guidelines and best practices to ensure these creatures’ well-being is always at the forefront. PADI dive operators understand the importance of using the proper equipment, the time of day to dive with sharks, and the maximum number of operators that should be on the water at any given time. To learn more about responsible shark and ray tourism and other ways you can support the protection of these incredible animals, visit padi.com/aware/sharks.

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Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 14 – 21 October 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

Price NOW from just £1175 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

Email info@diversetravel.co.uk to find out more!

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