Staff at the Bristol Aquarium are joining a continent-wide campaign aimed at raising awareness of the threats faced by shark species in European Waters.

The Harbourside aquarium will be hosting ‘European Shark Week’ October 2016 with the hope of converting young people into shark lovers rather than shark haters.

Of the 40 shark species found in European seas, one-third are threatened by intensive and illegal fishing, sport fishing and accidental capture, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

The last 15 years have seen an 80-per cent drop in the shark population, and 20 per cent of the European species are on the verge of critical status for survival.

Using a mixture of exhibitions, entertaining talks, feeding demonstrations and fun activities, Shark Week aims to dispel many of the popular misconceptions of sharks as mindless man-eaters by showing the facts behind the fiction.

As well as coming face to face with living members of the shark family ranging from native dogfish to tropical sharks, visitors to the aquarium will also be able to visit the ‘Shark Nursery’ – home to egg-cases, or mermaid’s purses, and newly-hatched baby sharks.

Other activities include quizzes and competitions and displays by the Shark Trust – a UK shark conservation group along with other information on what we can all do to help save sharks. There will also be the chance to sign a petition against the practice of shark finning.

Bristol Aquarium’s Mike Coe said: “We’re hoping that the combination of babies, fun quizzes and our own shark workshops will help to provide our visitors with a different view of these much-maligned predators.

“We ran a shark week earlier in the year and it was one of the most popular events we have had at the aquarium.

“We got some very positive feedback from the public and I’m sure that we also managed to convert quite a few of the visitors into, if not shark lovers, then at least shark supporters!”

British waters are visited by around 30 different shark species – including the world’s second largest, the basking shark, which can grow to 12 metres.