Do you have five minutes for sharks?

Have you seen any Catsharks aka lesser-spotted dogfish washed up on beaches?

Launched on Shark Awareness day in July, Shark Snaps is a new citizen science project, part of a collaboration between Cardiff University and The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ Living Seas team at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC) to investigate the prevalence of dead dogfish (catsharks) on UK beaches.

Sharks are an important part of a healthy marine ecosystem but in recent years their numbers have fallen around the world and many species are threatened with extinction. Although the small-spotted catshark is one of the most common sharks in UK waters, dead specimens are frequently encountered on beaches around our coastlines.

Did you know that dogfish are actually a species of shark, also known as small-spotted catshark, the scientific name for dogfish is Scyliorhinus canicular!

Dogfish lay eggs, their egg cases are known as mermaids purses and although they are a species of shark they are not a top predator, mainly feeding on small shellfish and crustaceans and can be food for other large species.

It’s easy to get involved - Shark Snaps is asking members of the public to spare 5 minutes for sharks:

Using what3words to mark your start and end point, walk 5 minutes, or more along the beach and count the number of dogfish you see as you walk, note their location, take a few photos of any dogfish you find, and send the information and photos in! All you need is a smartphone with a camera.

If you don’t see any dogfish – that’s good too as zero sightings are just as important!


The information you share with the project will help us understand more about the catsharks found on our beaches, where they are found, how many there are, whether they are male or female, young or mature. The information will help us understand more about the catshark populations around our coastline and go towards work to ensure this species will continue to swim in our waters in the future.

For more details on how to get involved and to record your survey results contact Neil on cookn7@cardiff.ac.uk or you can download a pdf document here with survey guidelines or you can record your survey via the iNaturalist app https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/shark-snaps

-- By Sarah Perry, Living Seas Manager

A lesser spotted catshark (dogfish: Scyliorhinus canicula) hiding in sea weeds (2020VISION)
Washed up dogfish being recorded as part of Shark Snaps (Neil Cook)