Blog Posts


Shark DNA Zip-coding; a way to identify the origin of sharks caught for the international fin trade.

In February 2016 I was in Hong Kong looking into the shark fin trade, it was a couple of days before the Chinese New Year and there were fins everywhere, to suit all types of consumer. You could buy them in general food stores, pharmacies and fishing villages. You could buy small ones in plastic […]

Two new species of saw sharks discovered

The newly discovered Pliotrema kajae and Pliotrema annae six-gill saw sharks, were discovered during research investigating small-scale fisheries operating off the coasts of Madagascar and Zanzibar. The discovery of these two new sharks highlights how little we still know about life in the ocean and the impact we are having on it. Read more here: https://biomeecology.com/news/2020/04/two-new-species-of-saw-sharks-discovered/

The 3.2 million year history of Great White Sharks in the Mediterranean Sea

Read more about the incredible evolutionary history of the Great white in the Mediterranean in my latest piece for BiOME Ecology webzine here: https://biomeecology.com/news/2020/03/the-3-2-million-year-history-of-great-white-sharks-in-the-mediterranean-sea/

Basking Sharks; Genetic Tagging, Gene Flow & Migration Routes

New research sheds light on the migration routes of basking sharks and outlines their vulnerability to environmental change. Check out my latest piece for BiOME Ecology webzine here: https://biomeecology.com/news/2020/02/basking-shark-genetic-tagging-gene-flow-migration-routes/

Fish Free February

This February I supported a new campaign; ‘Fish Free February’, founded by marine biologist Simon Hilbourne in collaboration with Ocean Festival UK founder Jasmine Tribe. Find out why here: https://biomeecology.com/conservation/2020/02/fish-free-february-campaign/

ICCAT 2019 Mako Shark Protection thwarted by EU & US

Back in June 2019, a report showed that the overfished North Atlantic shortfin mako shark population was continuing to decline and needed not only immediate protection but would take several decades to recover. To read my full write-up for BiOME Ecology webzine please follow the link: https://biomeecology.com/marine-biology/2019/11/iccat-2019-mako-shark-protection-thwarted-by-eu-us/

How do Sharks Grow?

Over the years I have been asked all sorts of questions about sharks, covering a broad range of pretty much everything, from; “Do sharks fart?” to “How do sharks grow?” Let’s start with the latter, this was asked by an Ecologist friend; Heather Lyons, and is a particular favourite of mine, not least because the […]

What is Biofluorescence? Shining a light on biofluorescence in UK waters.

Biofluorescence is essentially the ability of an organism, to absorb electromagnetic wavelengths from the visible light spectrum by fluorescent compounds, and the subsequent emission of this at a lower energy level. In this blog piece for the BiOME Ecology webzine i talk to plant pathologist James Lynott about this incredible phenomenon: https://biomeecology.com/news/2019/10/shining-a-light-on-shark-biofluorescence-dr-l-smith/

Stars in their eyes (well, skin).

“Tonight Matthew i’m going to be…..” OK, enough of the British TV show references (of a particular era)! I actually want to talk about Smooth-hound sharks, Starry Smooth-hound identification to be exact (Mustelus asterias). Recently i was given a box of trawl captured smooth-hound sharks from a local fish wholesaler for fecundity research as well […]

Egg(case) Hunting this Easter

Are you heading to the beach this Easter? If so forget the chocolate eggs – shark & skate eggcases are where its at! Some species of sharks and skates found around the UK coastline lay eggcases, this is a method of reproduction known as ‘oviparity’. Skates will lay their eggs on the seabed, with sharks […]