Sea Fish Species

  • Basking Shark

    Basking Shark

    Huge shark. Body is black or dark grey, occasionally with brownish tinge. Massive mouth appears toothless and gill slits are huge for filter feeding. Large pectoral, dorsal and tail fins. Snout is pointed and eyes are small.


    Widespread distribution throughout most of the world’s temperate oceans.

    Feeds On


    • Scientific name: Cetorhinus maximus
    • Size: Typically 22-28ft and 9000lb, although can be larger.
    • UK minimum size: N/a
    • UK shore caught record: N/a
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Bass


    Sleek streamlined body with distinct silver scales and straight lateral line. First dorsal fin contains sharp spines (as do the gill covers), second dorsal fin much smaller with no spines. Colour can fade into black/blue on black. There is a distinctive black mark on the gill cover.


    Found throughout the UK in the warm summer months, but is more common on the south coasts of England and Ireland.

    Feeds On

    Primarily hunts small fish but will also take worms and crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Dicentrarchus labrax
    • Also know as: Seabass
    • Size: up to 4ft and 20lb. UK shore caught typically 1-5lb
    • UK minimum size: Catch and release only for Jan – Jun 2016, a one bass per day bag limit with 42cm minimum size will apply for Jun – Dec 2016. See below.
    • UK shore caught record: 19lb 13oz
    • ICUN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Black Bream

    Black Bream

    Oval shaped fish. Single dorsal fin is long and runs for around two thirds of the body length and has short spines protruding, gill covers are also sharp. Colour is usually black with grey to silver stripes and fades to white/silver towards the belly, darker in the breeding season. Anal fin is much smaller and tail is deeply forked. Mouth is small but powerful and full of sharp teeth.


    A warm water fish primarily found around the south of the British Isles, although isolated populations are located further north.

    Feeds On

    Small crustaceans, shellfish and other invertebrates. They also feed on marine vegetation.

    • Scientific name: Spondyliosoma cantharu
    • Also known as: Porgy/Porgie, Seabream, Black Seabeam
    • Size: Up to 2ft/60cm and 7lbs
    • UK minimum size: 10ins/23cm
    • UK shore caught record: 6lb 8oz
  • Blue Shark

    Blue Shark

    Sleek body with large eyes and pointed snout. Pectoral fins are long, as is the tailfin. Dorsal fin is relatively small. Body is dark blue on the back, blending to lighter blue on the flanks and white to grey on the belly. Mouth has two rows of serrated teeth, with additional rows behind.


    Blue shark has an extremely widespread distribution, being found throughout temperate and tropical waters across all the world’s seas and oceans, apart from the Arctic Ocean.

    Feeds On

    Fish, squid and cuttlefish.

    • Scientific name: Prionace glauca
    • Size: Up to 13ft and 400lb. Typical boat caught in UK waters 6-8ft and 100-150lbs.
    • UK minimum size: All UK shark species have a default minimum weight of 40lbs/18kg (shore) and 50lbs/23kg (boat).
    • UK shore caught record: No record stands. Minimum qualifying weight set at 40lbs.
    • IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
  • Bull Huss

    Bull Huss

    Long body with two dorsal fins set very far back on body and prominent pectoral fins. As a shark species fins are not segmented with rays or spines and multiple gill slits are present on both sides of the body. Colour is generally brownish to yellow with large spots across the body. Mouth set quite far back on underside and nasal grooves do not reach the mouth. Underside pale/white.


    Found primarily along the southern and western coasts of the British Isles, although can turn up elsewhere. Also present from Scandinavia, throughout the Mediterranean and along the northern coast of the African continent.

    Feeds On

    Small fish, sandeels and cuttlefish, but will also eat crabs, prawns and marine worms and shellfish.

    • Scientific name: Scyliorhinus stellaris
    • Also known as: Greater-spotted Dogfish, Large-spotted Catshark, Nursehound, Rough Hound. When sold as food they may be know as Rock Salmon, Rock Eel or Flake.
    • Size: up to 5ft and 20lbs. Shore caught typically 3ft and 4 – 8lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 23inches/58cm in length
    • UK shore caught record: 19lb 14oz
    • IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
  • Coalfish


    Streamlined body with three dorsal fins. Back is olive green or brown to black with straight, white lateral line. Flanks and belly are white to silver. Lower jaw only protrudes slightly. Very small barbule on chin, although this may be absent on some fish.


    Widespread throughout all UK and Irish waters, but more common in North East England and Scotland.

    Feeds On

    Mostly other fish such as herring, sandeel and small mackerel. Coalfish will also feed on the seabed for crustaceans and marine worms.

    • Scientific name: Pollachius virens
    • Also know as: Saithe, Coley, Black, Black Pollock
    • Size: up to 4ft and 50lb+, UK shore caught typically 2-10lb
    • UK minimum size: 14ins/35cm
    • UK shore caught record: 24lb 11oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Cod


    Upper jaw protrudes with prominent barbule on chin. Head is large and can make up a quarter of overall length, mouth is also large. White underbelly with lateral line that curves upwards and three dorsal fins. Colour is usually greenish/grey/tan speckled flanks and back. However, cod which have lived their whole life in weedy areas will have taken on a different colour and can be brownish, or even red.


    Commonly found throughout the British Isles. Cod are semi-migrational, with some moving to colder Scandinavian waters in the summer, while other (usually smaller) specimens stay around the UK all year round. Their range extends throughout much of Europe and they are also found in American and Canadian waters.

    Feeds On

    Cod have an insatiable appetite and will feed on anything they can find. Worms, prawns, shellfish, crabs, lobsters, octopus and any other form of marine life will all be devoured. Cod will also actively hunt other smaller fish.


    • Scientific name: Gadus morhua
    • Also know as: Codling, Atlantic Cod
    • Size: Up to 6ft and around 200lb. UK shore caught typically 2-10lb
    • UK minimum size: 14ins/35cm (but regional differences may apply)
    • UK shore caught record: 44lb 8oz
    • IUCN Status
      • Global: VU (Vulnerable)
      • Europe: LC (Least Concern)
  • Common Skate

    Common Skate

    Diamond shaped body with long tail. Snout is long and pointed. Back is usually brown in colour, although sometimes greenish, and features lighter coloured spots. There are twelve to twenty spines or horns running along the tail, and mature skate may have small thorns on the body. Underside is pale to white, sometimes with a bluish tinge.


    Once widespread throughout the UK but populations now severely depleted and restricted to the deep sea lochs of the west of Scotland and west coast of Ireland.

    Feeds On

    Will take crustaceans and shellfish, as well as other fish such as flatfish. Larger skate will also hunt in mid-water for pelagic fish.

    • Scientific name: Dipturus batis
    • Size: Up to 9ft (from wingtip to wingtip) and over 250lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 16ins/41cm (from wingtip to wingtip), but see endangered status below.
    • UK shore caught record: 169lb 6oz
    • UK shore caught notable catch: 226lb (estimated)
    • IUCN Status: CR (Critically Endangered)
  • Conger Eel

    Conger Eel

    Long snake-like muscular body. Scaleless skin which is dark grey, bluish or green in colour. Dorsal fin ranges all the way around the body and merges with anal fin. Upper jaw extends beyond lower jaw. Relatively large eyes and prominent lips with mouth full of small, sharp teeth.


    Conger eels are mostly found around the western coast of the British Isles but can be elsewhere in Britain, including along the eastern coast, but in much smaller numbers. Their range extends throughout European waters.

    Feeds On

    Predator which will hunt down and fish species it can find, but will also happily feed by scavenging for dead or rotting fish.

    • Scientific name: Conger conger
    • Also known as: European Conger
    • Size: Maximum size unknown, at least 200lbs (UK shore caught typically 5-25lbs)
    • UK minimum size: 36inches (91cm) in length (but see below)
    • UK shore caught record: 68lb 8oz
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Dab


    Small right-eyed flatfish. Sandy brown colour with faint orange spots and black or dark brown flecks. Underside is white, occasionally with a bluish tinge. Skin is rough. Noticeable curve to lateral line.


    Common over clear seabeds all around the UK, but particularly common in the North Sea with its range extending into Scandinavian waters.

    Feeds On

    Marine worms, prawns, molluscs, shellfish and small crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Limanda limanda
    • Also known as: Common Dab
    • Size: Up to 18ins and 3lb. UK shore caught typically well under 1lb.
    • UK minimum size: 20cms/8ins
    • UK shore caught record: 2lb 9oz
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Dealfish


    Distinctive looking fish which has elongated, slender, bright silvery body which is free of scales and sometimes has a number of large black spots present. Dorsal fin is pink to reddish in colour runs the entire length of the body. Tail is very small and also pink/red in colour. No anal fins are present and pectoral fins are very small. Eyes are extremely large and the mouth can be extended outwards when feeding.


    Found predominantly in the northern and western areas of the Atlantic Ocean.

    Feeds On

    Believed to feed on small fish and squid.

    • Scientific name: Trachipterus arcticus
    • Also know as: Northern Dealfish, Ribbonfish
    • Size: Usually 4ft in length but can reach 8ft
    • UK minimum size: N/a
    • UK shore caught record: N/a
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Dogfish


    Long, slim body which is tan or light brown and covered in small dark spots and skin is very rough to the touch. Underside is light grey to white in colour. Mouth is set quite far back on underside of body and nasal grooves reach the mouth. Two dorsal fins are set far back on the body and pectoral fins are large and triangular. As this is a shark species there are no rays, spines or segments in the fins, and five gill slits are present on each side of the body.


    Found all around the UK but in generally in greater numbers on the south and west coasts of the British Isles. It is also found throughout the Mediterranean,  coasts of northern Africa, and in Scandinavian waters.

    Feeds On

    Extremely unfussy scavenger that will eat pretty much anything it can find. Worms, fish, prawns, shellfish and crustaceans will all be taken, as will small fish it can hunt down.

    • Scientific name: Scyliorhinus canicula
    • Also know as: Lesser-Spotted Dogfish, Small-Spotted Dogfish, Small-spotted Catshark, Rockfish.
    • Size: Up to 3ft and 5lbs (UK shore caught typically 1-2lb).
    • UK minimum size: 15in/38cm in length
    • UK shore caught record: 4lb 15oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Dover Sole

    Dover Sole

    Right eyed oval-shaped flatfish with very small tail and long, thin fins. Dark stripe or spot on the very end of the small pectoral fin. Eyes are small and set close together. Colour ranges from dark brown to tan/light brown with darker patches.


    Generally favours warmer water, meaning it is more common in the south of the British Isles, especially the English Channel, Irish Sea and southern parts of the North Sea on sand and shingle seabeds. Does, however, sporadically show up in northern parts of the UK in limited numbers.

    Feeds On

    Mostly marine worms, prawns and invertebrates, but will feed on other food sources such as molluscs and crustaceans if they are present.

    • Scientific name: Solea solea
    • Also know as: Common Sole, Black Sole
    • Size: up to 3ft and 7lb. UK shore caught typically 1 – 2lb.
    • UK minimum size: 10ins/25cm
    • UK shore caught record: 6lb 8oz
    • ICUN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Flounder


    Rounded diamond shape with rough surface along the lateral line. Colour can range from light brown to green to greyish, sometimes with dark orange spots. White underbelly in most flounder, although there can be freak fish with an underside the same colour as the back. The vast majority of flounder have eyes on the right side of their head but a minority have eyes on the left.


    Common throughout UK and Irish waters. Live in shallow water often near to an influx of fresh water, favour clear sandy or muddy ground and can travel up rivers far into freshwater territory. Distribution extends into Northern European waters and into the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

    Feeds On

    Young flounder will eat mostly marine worms and prawns, older fish will add crustaceans and molluscs to this.

    • Scientific name: Platichthys flesus
    • Also known as: European Flounder, Fluke
    • Size: Up to 1ft 8ins and 6lb (UK shore caught typically 1-2lbs), but see below.
    • UK minimum size: 11inches (27cm) in length.
    • UK shore caught record: 5lb 7oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Garfish


    Easily recognisable by thin, extremely elongated body and long, tooth-filled beak-like mouth. Lower jaw is usually longer than upper jaw. Single, small dorsal and anal fin set very far back on the body, as are the pelvic fins. Underside is pale and back and flanks are blue to green. Tail is forked.


    Found in the warmer water around the south and west of the British Isles.

    Feeds On

    Small fish such as herring, sprats, sandeels and immature fry of larger species.

    • Scientific name: Belone belone
    • Also known as: Needlefish, Garpike, Sea Pike, Beakfish, Sea Needle, Mackerel Guide, Mackerel Guardian, Greenbone Fish, Long-nose Fish.
    • Size: Up to 3ft and 4lbs
    • UK minimum size: 38cm/15inches
    • UK shore caught record: 3lb 4oz
    • IUCN Status
      • Global: LC (Least Concern)
      • Europe: LC (Least Concern)
  • Grey Gurnard

    Grey Gurnard

    The grey gurnard are the smallest of the three main gurnard species. It can grow to almost three pounds, but shore caught are usually under a pound. Unsurprisingly the grey gurnard is usually a dark greyish colour on the back and flanks, although this can sometimes be nearer to black. This fades to a pale underbelly. The grey gurnard’s lateral line is made up of unusual bony, thorny scales, and its pectoral fin/wings are the smallest of the three.


    Tub and grey gurnard are found throughout the UK in decent numbers. The red gurnard, however, is a fish that is generally found in the south of the British Isles, especially in the English Channel. Like other species such as pollock, the gurnard move out into deeper water in the winter and come into shallower waters to follow in the sprats, sandeels and other species in the warmer months.

    Feeds On

    All gurnard are predatory and will hunt sprats, sandeels and small mackerel and herring. They will also opportunistically feed on marine worms and crustaceans and scavenge on dead fish found on the seabed.

    • Scientific name: Eutrigla gurnardus.
    • UK shore caught record: 1lb 10oz.
    • UK minimum size: 9ins/23cm.
  • Haddock


    Like all members of the cod family the haddock has three dorsal fins, the first of which is triangular. Distinctive black mark near to the pectoral fin which is known as the thumb print. Silvery grey/brown back fading to a cream/pale underbelly. Mouth smaller and lower set than in the cod. Lateral line is black and curves slightly upwards. Tail only slightly forked.


    Found on both sides of the Atlantic but more common on the European side. Relatively deep water fish that is rarely found in water of less than fifty metres. In UK waters located more towards the north of the British Isles.

    Feeds On

    Much more selective feeder than the closely related cod. Generally takes shellfish and worms, with only bigger specimens hunting other fish.

    • Scientific name: Melanogrammus aeglefinus
    • Size: Up to 4ft in length and 25lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 14ins/35cm
    • UK shore caught record: 6lb 12oz
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Hake


    Long cylindrical body with large head and mouth. Prominent triangular first dorsal fin and very long second dorsal fin and anal fin. Tail fin has straight rear edge. Body is silvery grey, sometimes with a green/brown gleam, and underside is pale. Noticeable, straight, black lateral line.


    Found in deeper offshore waters around Northern Europe.

    Feeds On

    Other fish such as herring, pouting, codling etc.

    • Scientific name: Merluccius merluccius
    • Also know as: European Hake, Herring Hake
    • Size: Up to 4ft in length and 30lbs
    • UK minimum size: 12ins/30cm
    • UK shore caught record: 3lb 8oz
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Halibut


    Outline is a slim diamond shape with dark brown, green or black back, usually with a mottled light and dark pattern. Underside is pale. Eyes are on the right hand side and tail is very slightly forked. Prominent curve in the lateral line. Large mouth with sharp teeth. Dorsal and anal fins are very long and run the full length of the body.


    Coldwater fish that can be found around Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavian waters, as well as the northern North Sea. Also found on the other side of the Atlantic in American and Canadian waters.

    Feeds On

    Mostly feeds by hunting other fish, but will also take crustaceans on occasions.

    • Scientific name: Hippoglossus hippoglossus
    • Also known as: Atlantic Halibut
    • Size: Evidence exists that halibut can grow to over 15ft in length and 700lbs or more.
    • UK minimum size: Halibut have a minimum weight of 22lbs/10kg when caught from the shore, rather than a minimum length.
    • UK shore caught record: No record stands. Qualifying weight set at 10lbs.
    • IUCN Status: EN (Endangered)
  • Herring


    Small fish with silver sides and belly. Upper sections can have a blue or green tinge. Head and gills can be blackish. Scales are relatively large and easily detached from the body. Single short dorsal fin and anal fin is also small. No lateral line is visible. Tail is deeply forked.


    Found throughout British and Irish waters, but the highest populations are located in the northern North Sea off the coast of Scotland and in Northern Irish waters.

    Feeds On

    Filter feeds on plankton and minute sea creatures, but will also take very small sprats and fry of other fish.

    • Scientific name: Clupea harengus
    • Also known as: Atlantic Herring
    • Size: Exceptionally up to 16 inches in length, but vast majority half this size.
    • UK minimum size:8ins/20cm
    • UK shore caught record: No record stands. Qualifying weight set at 1lb.
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • John Dory

    John Dory

    Strange looking fish. Body is almost circular and laterally compressed.  Colour can be yellow, brown or orange, alternating with white stripes and patches.   Large, prominent black spot in the centre of the body. Underside is paler. Head is large, as is the expandable, tube-like mouth. First dorsal fin is made of long, spiky filaments, and pectoral fins are long and flowing.


    Common throughout the world’s warmer seas but confined to southern England and Ireland in the warmer months.

    Feeds On

    Small fish.

    • Scientific name: Zeus faber
    • Also known as: St. Peter’s Fish
    • Size: Up to 2ft and 6lbs.
    • UK minimum size: N/a
    • UK shore caught record: No record stands. Qualifying weight set at 3lbs.
  • Ling


    Looks like a cross between a cod and a conger eel. Long, eel-like body which is usually brown to green on the back and pale on the underside with speckled flanks. Very long chin barbel. First dorsal fin is short, usually with a dark spot. Second dorsal fin is very long, as is the anal fin. Mouth full of sharp teeth.


    Common all around the British Isles, especially the northern areas in deep, offshore waters.

    Feeds On

    Primarily fish, but will take crustaceans on occasion.

    • Scientific name:  Molva molva
    • Also known as: Common Ling, White Ling
    • Size: Up to 6ft and 70lbs. Shore caught typically 2-5lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 25inches/63cm
    • UK shore caught record: 21lb 10oz
    • ICUN Status: DD (Data Deficient)
  • Mackerel


    Slim and streamlined small fish built for hunting in mid to upper water. Attractive, almost tropical looking marbled blue/green back with around twenty black bars running down the flanks. Shiny silver belly and lower flanks, short fins and highly forked tail. Like the closely related tuna there are a ridge of finlets running from the last dorsal fin to the tail.


    Common throughout the UK and Ireland in summer months.

    Feeds On

    Small but fast moving hunter that feeds on small fish and sandeels.

    • Scientific name: Scomber scombrus
    • Also known as: Atlantic Mackerel
    • Size: up to 18ins and 6lb. UK shore caught typically around 1lb
    • UK minimum size: 12ins/30cm in length
    • UK shore caught record: 5lb 11oz
    • ICUN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Megrim


    Slim bodied, oval shaped left-eyed flatfish. Body is pale orange/yellow to light brown, and can have a translucent appearance. Dorsal and anal fin start far back on the body and run right along to the tail and be edged in black. Head and mouth are relatively large in relation to the rest of the body.


    Quite common around most of the deep, offshore waters around the UK and northern Europe.

    Feeds On

    Small fish and crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Lepidorhombus whiffiagonis
    • Also known as: Whiffy, Whiff, Megrim Sole, Cornish Sole
    • Size: Up to 2ft and 4lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 10ins/25cm
    • UK shore caught record: 2lb 6oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)


  • Monkfish


    Large, broad head with massive mouth full of very sharp teeth which point inwards. Flat body which is mottled dark brown to black in colour. Blunt spines are under the loose skin. First dorsal fin is short and spiny with powerful pectoral fins. Pale underside. Flexible protuberance from the head which is used to attract fish.


    A deep water fish which stays at depths of around fifty metres, and usually substantially deeper than this. Monkfish are found in the north east Atlantic and parts of the Irish Sea, English Channel and North Sea.

    Feeds On

    Ambush hunter which feeds primarily on other fish, but will also prey on squid, cuttlefish, octopus and even crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Lophius piscatorius
    • Also know as: Anglerfish, Headfish, Goosefish, Frog-fish, Sea-devil
    • Size: Up to 6ft long and 250lbs, but typically half this size.
    • UK minimum size: Monkfish have a minimum weight of 16lb/7kg when caught from the shore, rather than a minimum length.
    • UK shore caught record: 68lb 2oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Plaice


    Right eyed flatfish. Colour is usually brownish but can be greyish or greenish to blend in with surroundings. Skin is fairly smooth with small scales and speckled with noticeable orange dots. Has a distinctive ridge of four to seven distinctive bony bumps running across back of head. Underside is white.


    Found from spring to early autumn on muddy, sandy and shingle seabeds throughout UK and Irish waters. Also present throughout the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

    Feeds On

    Feeds mostly on marine worms, crustaceans and shellfish.

    • Scientific name: Pleuronectes platessa
    • Also known as: European Plaice
    • Size: Up to 26 inches and 10lb (UK shore caught typically 1-3lb)
    • UK minimum size: 11in/28cm in length
    • UK shore caught record: 8lb 6oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Pollock


    Lower jaw protrudes noticeably and the there is no barbel on the chin. Flanks are brown to greenish grey, although pollock from some areas have a coppery colour which can be very bright, especially when a fish has just been removed from the water. Lateral line is high and curves upwards. As a member of the cod family the pollock has three dorsal fins.


    Common throughout the whole of the UK and Ireland.

    Feeds On

    Predator that feeds by hunting small fish and sandeels, but will also scour the seabed for anything it can find such as worms and crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Pollachius pollachius
    • Also known as: Lythe
    • Size: Up to 3ft and 20lbs (UK shore caught typically 1-5lbs)
    • UK minimum size: 12inches (30cm) in length
    • UK shore caught record: 18lb 4oz
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Pouting


    Small fish with a high, rounded body. Three dorsal fins are present, the first of which is high and triangular. Prominent barbule on chin and small black spot at the start of the pectoral fin. Back is usually brownish to orangey/copper in colour and underbelly is pale. Bars or thick stripes can sometimes be found running down the flanks of this species, although these fade once the fish is out of the water for any amount of time.


    Found around most of the UK, although they are more common in the south and south west of the British Isles.

    Feeds On

    Unfussy scavenger that will feed on marine worms, small fish, crabs and prawns.

    • Scientific name: Trisopterus luscus
    • Also known as: Pout, Bib, Whiting Pout, Blegg, Scotch Haddock
    • Size: Up to 2ft and over 5lb. UK shore caught typically 8oz-1lb.
    • UK minimum size: 8ins/20cm
    • UK shore caught record: 4lb 9oz
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Sand Sole

    Sand Sole

    Right-sided flatfish with a similar shape to a Dover sole. Colour is usually a light speckled brown. Fins continue around most of body and tail fin is very small and rounded. Distinctive rosette shaped nostril is present on the underside of this species.


    UK distribution is limited to the southern coasts of the England and Wales and the southern waters of Ireland. Distribution extends to parts of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.

    Feeds On

    Small marine creatures such as prawns and worms.

    • Scientific name: Pegusa lascaris
    • Size: Up to 40cm and 3lbs
    • UK minimum size: N/a
    • UK shore caught record: N/a
    • IUCN status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Scad


    Streamlined silvery body, with green/grey back. Two dorsal fins, first of which is tall and spined, the second is longer and flatter, as is the anal fin. Tail is deeply forked. Unusual scaly lateral line which runs all the way from the tail to the gills and curves upwards over the large pectoral fin. Large eyes and black mark on gill cover.


    Found throughout the UK in summer months but more common around the south and west coasts, with a separate population migrating from Scandinavia to the coast of Scotland in summer.

    Feeds On

    Mostly feeds by hunting small fish, sandeels and squid, although will take most edible creatures it comes across including crustaceans. Scad can also filter feed on plankton.

    • Scientific name: Trachurus trachurus
    • Also known as: Horse Mackerel, Atlantic Horse Mackerel, Common Scad
    • Size: Up to 18ins and 3lb. UK shore caught usually under 12ins and 1lb.
    • UK minimum size: 25cm/10inches
    • UK shore caught record: 3lb
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Sea Trout

    Sea Trout

    Powerfully built muscular fish. Body can be anything from silvery to brown to orange/yellow. Large eyes and a variable number of black spots on the back and flanks, with other colour spots sometimes also present. Prominent dorsal and second anal fins. Tail is flat and broad with no fork. Lower jaw often has noticeable upwards curvature.


    Widespread distribution in freshwater rivers and coastal areas around Britian and Ireland.

    Feeds On

    Smaller trout feed on insects such as mayflies and freshwater invertebrates. Once mature trout become hunters, feeding on any smaller fish they come across.

    • Scientific name: Salmo trutta
    • Also known as: Brown Trout.
    • Regional Names: Sewin (Wales), Finnock and Herling (Scotland), Peal (South West England), Mort (North West England), White Trout (Republic of Ireland).
    • Size: Up to 4ft and 20lbs. UK shore caught typically 1-3lbs.
    • UK minimum size: N/a – Licence needed to catch and keep this species
    • UK shore caught record: Data unavailable
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Shortfin Mako

    Shortfin Mako

    Strong, powerful and streamlined body with large gill slits. Snout is pointed, eyes are relatively large and large mouth is full of rows of sharp teeth. Pectoral fins are large, no second caudal keel is present. Colour usually a dark grey on the back and flanks, fading to white on the underbelly.


    Widespread distribution throughout the sub-tropical and temperate seas of the world. In British waters they are more common off the south and west coasts.

    Feeds On

    Any fish which will fit into their mouths and will also take small seals.

    • Scientific name: Isurus oxyrinchus
    • Size: Up to 14ft in length and 1300lbs+. Mako found in British waters are generally 300-500lb.
    • UK minimum size: All UK shark species have a default minimum weight of 40lbs/18kg (shore) and 50lbs/23kg (boat).
    • UK shore caught record: N/a
    • IUCN status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Silver Eel

    Silver Eel

    Long thin body which is covered in slime. Back and flanks are grey to dark green with lower half and belly pale/white. Dorsal fin starts one third along the body and joins the anal fin. Lower jaw protrudes noticeably further than the upper jaw.


    Once abundant around the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe. While it is still found across the British Isles numbers are much reduced and silver eels are now absent from areas where they were once common

    Feeds On

    Fish, worms and crustaceans are eaten when it lives in the sea during the silver eel stage of life. Smaller fish, frogs, insect larvae and any other dead and rotting creatures when in its freshwater environment.

    • Scientific name: Anguilla anguilla
    • Also know as: European Eel, Common Eel (and at different stages of their life Glass Eels, Elvers, Yellow Eel and Brown Eel)
    • Size: Up to 5ft in length and 20lbs. Shore caught typically 1-3lbs.
    • UK minimum size: N/a – all silver eels caught by anglers must be returned to the sea by law (see below).
    • UK shore caught record: 11lb 2oz
    • IUCN Status: CR (Critically Endangered)
  • Small Eyed Ray

    Small Eyed Ray

    Short pointed snout and (unsurprisingly) small eyes with spiracles just behind. Colour can range from grey to green and brown with small dark dots and lighter lines crossing the body. Spines and spikes run down the central section of the body and tail, but these lie almost flat against the body. Tail is slightly shorter than the body and the underside is white.


    Found mainly around the south and west of the British Isles. Small, isolated populations can be found elsewhere around the UK but they are absent from much of the North Sea.

    Feeds On

    Mostly fish but will also take worms and crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Raja microocellata
    • Also known as: Painted Ray
    • Size: Up to 3ft and 20lbs. UK shore caught typically 2-6lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 16ins/41cm from wingtip to wingtip.
    • UK shore caught record: 15lbs
    • IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
  • Smooth-hound


    Small shark species. First dorsal fin is large, second is only slightly smaller and located further back. Pectoral fins are also large and a small anal fin is present. Snout is pointed and eyes prominent and the mouth consists of crushing plates due to diet, rather than sharp teeth. Five gill slits are present on either side and tail is notched. Underbelly is cream/pale.


    More common around the south and west of England, but range is increasing.

    Feeds On

    Diet is made up primarily of crustaceans, shellfish and molluscs. Fish are taken only occasionally.

    • Scientific name: Mustelus mustelus
    • Also know as: Gummy Shark, Common Smooth-hound, Smut, Smooth Dogfish. When sold as food it may be known as Rock Salmon, Flake or Sweet William.
    • Size: Up to 4ft and 25lbs
    • UK minimum size: 20ins/51cm
    • UK shore caught record: 20lb 3oz
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Spurdog


    Slender shark species which can be grey to brown on back and flanks with sometimes with white spots and has a pale underbelly. Prominent pectoral fins which lack rays, spines or segments and no anal fin is present. Two dorsal fins, both of which contain a spike which secretes venom. Five gill slits are present on each side of the body.


    Found in temperate waters around most of the UK, but more prominent around the western coast of England, Scotland and Ireland. Spurdog are also found in many other places around the world

    Feeds On

    Fish such as small flounder, plaice, codling and sprats, but will also feed fish that swim in midwater such as herring and eat small crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Squalus acanthias
    • Also known as: Spiny Dogfish, Spiked Dogfish, Cape Shark, Piked Dogfish.
    • Size: Up to 4ft and 20lbs (UK shore caught typically 5-10lbs)
    • UK minimum size: 23inches (58cm) in length
    • UK shore caught record: 16lb 12oz
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Thornback Ray

    Thornback Ray

    Kite shaped with long tail. Light orange/brown marbled pattern on back, with pale spots covering body. Central part of body covered in horns and spikes, which grow to the edges of the rays as they get older. Mature females may also have thorns on the underside, which is white/pale. Other species of ray may also have thorns (making identification confusing) but thornback ray have the most of any species.


    Found around the UK and Ireland on clear sandy, muddy and shingle seabeds and in clear sections of ground in the middle of rocky areas. Found throughout much of the UK but can be scarce along much of the east coast of Scotland and England.

    Feeds On

    Crustaceans and crabs mainly, but will also eat small fish, especially flatfish.

    • Scientific name: Raja clavata
    • Also know as: Roker, Skate, Thornback Skate
    • Size: Up to 4ft (from wingtip to wingtip) and 35lbs (UK shore caught typically 2-12lbs)
    • UK minimum size: 16inches (41cm) from wingtip to wingtip
    • UK shore caught record: 21lb 8oz
    • IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
  • Three Bearded Rockling

    Three Bearded Rockling

    Long, eel-like body with very long dorsal and anal fins. Colour varies but is usually orange/brown with black spots creating a mottled pattern on flanks and back. Three prominent barbules around mouth. Scaleless skin is slimy.


    Found in shallow inshore waters all around UK and Ireland. More common in rocky or mixed ground.

    Feeds On

    Scours seabed for marine worms, prawns, shellfish and small crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Gaidropsarus vulgaris
    • Also known as: Slug
    • Size: up to 2ft and 3lb. Shore caught typically under 1lb.
    • UK minimum size: 8ins/20cm
    • UK shore caught record: 3lb 12oz
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Thresher Shark

    Thresher Shark

    Powerfully built shark with squat, powerful body. Colour is grey, on the back and flanks, sometimes with tinges of blue and purple, with white underside. Head is fairly broad and eyes are small for a shark species. Dorsal fin is small but pectoral fins are large and broad. Mouth is fairly small and full of small but very sharp teeth. Upper part of narrow, tapering tail fin is massively extended, making up around half of the bodylength.


    Migratory species which (although rare) can be found in UK waters in the summer months. Generally stays far offshore over deeper water.

    Feeds On

    Pelagic shoaling fish such as mackerel and herring, and will also eat squid.

    • Scientific name: Alopias vulpinus
    • Also known as: Common Thresher Shark, Fox Shark
    • Size: Over 30ft (although half of this length is the tail), and 1250lbs.
    • UK minimum size: All UK shark species have a default minimum weight of 40lbs/18kg (shore) and 50lbs/23kg (boat).
    • UK shore caught record: N/a
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Tope


    Slim, streamlined body and long pointed snout. Greyish upper body, sometimes with a brownish tinge and white belly with distinctive, notched tail. Two dorsal fins and large, powerful pectoral fins. Mouth full of small but extremely sharp teeth. Males identified by the presence of the clasper near to the anal fin.


    Wide distribution around the UK, but more common around the south east, southern and western coasts of the British Isles.

    Feeds On

    Tope feed on a variety of different fish such as dab, flounder and pouting, as well as mackerel and herring. They will also take squid and on occasion crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Galeorhinus galeus
    • Also know as: Tope Shark, School Shark, Soupfin Shark, Oil Shark, Penny’s Dog, Miller’s Dog
    • Size: Up to 6ft and 100lbs, although in some locations the maximum size can be 20-30lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 9kgs/20lbs (as a shark species tope has a minimum weight rather than length)
    • UK shore caught record: 66lbs
    • IUCN Status: VU (Vulnerable)
  • Turbot


    Left eyed flatfish which is almost circular in shape. Skin is scaleless and the colour varies greatly but is usually a shade of brown with black spots and brown speckles and white underside. Eyes are small and mouth is relatively large.


    Seen as more common in the south but actually found throughout the UK on sandy, muddy and light broken ground.

    Feeds On

    Small fish, prawns and crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Scophthalmus maximus
    • Size: Up to 5ft and 50lbs. UK shore caught typically 2-6lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 16ins/41cm
    • UK shore caught record: 28lb 8oz
    • IUCN Status: NT (Near Threatened)
  • Undulate Ray

    Undulate Ray

    Fairly rounded shaped ray with a thick tail. There are various different colours on the back ranging from dark brown to grey and yellowish, and in addition to this there are multiple thick dark lines (the undulating pattern gives this species its name) and white spots are also present. There can also be spines and spikes running down the central part of the body and tail.


    Predominantly in the warmer waters to the south and west of the British Isles

    Feeds On

    Fish, especially flatfish and crustaceans.

    • Scientific name: Raja undulata
    • Size: Up to 3ft and 25lbs. UK shore caught typically 2-6lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 16inches/41cm from wingtip to wingtip
    • UK shore caught record: 21lbs 4oz
  • Whiting


    Upper jaw protrudes slightly. Back can be brownish, grey or greenish, fading on the flanks to pale, sometimes silvery lower flanks and underbelly. High lateral line curves upwards and eyes are relatively large. Like all members of the cod family the whiting has three dorsal fins.


    Widespread throughout all UK and Irish waters during autumn and winter.

    Feeds On

    Anything it can find by scavenging around on the seabed for marine worms, crustaceans and shellfish. Whiting will also actively hunt for small fish.

    • Scientific name: Merlangius merlangus
    • Also know as: Pin Whiting is a term for small immature whiting.
    • Size: Up to 18 inches and 7lbs (UK shore caught typically 1lb or less)
    • UK minimum size: 11inches (27cm) in length
    • UK shore caught record: 4lb 8oz
    • ICUN Status: LC (Least Concern)
  • Witch


    Oval, right-eyed flatfish with small head and mouth and prominent eyes. Light brown to greenish grey in colour with fins generally darker than the rest of the body. Underside is pale to white.  Skin is quite rough to the touch. Lateral line is completely straight. Eyes and fins can appear black.


    Found in deep water all around Europe and also off the North American coast.

    Feeds On

    Crustaceans, starfish and marine invertebrates.

    • Scientific name: Glyptocephalus cynoglossus
    • Also known as: Torbay Sole, Witch Flounder, Grey Flounder
    • Size: Up to 2ft and 5lbs
    • UK minimum size: N/a
    • UK shore caught record: 1lb 2oz
    • IUCN Status: NE (Not Evaluated)
  • Wrasse


    Stoutly built fish with broad body and large scales. Single, long dorsal fin that extends all of the way along the back and rounded tail fin. Colour ranges from brown/reddish to dark green, with light spots and a paler belly. Mouth is fairly small and lips are prominent. Teeth and jaws are powerful.


    Fairly common in rocky inshore coastal areas all around the UK, although highest concentration (and biggest specimens) found in the south and especially the south west of England.

    Feeds On

    All kinds of shellfish such as mussels, cockles, limpets and winkles. Also eats all manner of crustaceans and occasionally small fish.

    • Scientific name: Labrus bergylta
    • Size: Can grow to almost 3ft and 10lbs. UK shore caught typically 1-3lbs.
    • UK minimum size: 9ins/23cm
    • UK shore caught record: 9lb 1oz
    • IUCN Status: LC (Least Concern)

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