Sharks from Around the World

Encounter Sharks!

Bristol Aquarium is home to a range of shark species from all corners of the world. Did you know that there are around 440 known species of sharks?! You can find a number of different species across our displays. Take a close look at sharks found in tropical waters and those in native UK waters. See how many different ones you can spot!

Don’t forget to make the most of our daily talks and feeds. You’ll get the chance to learn all about sharks, including plenty of fascinating facts about their diets and traits!


Juvenile Catshark at Bristol Aquarium

Juvenile Catshark at Bristol Aquarium

UK Native Sharks

Did you know that 33 different shark species swim through UK waters? Look out for the different markings, colours and sizes of these sharks in our native display. Here you’ll find…

  • Bull huss
  • Lesser spotted cat sharks
  • Smooth hound sharks
  • Starry smooth hound sharks
  • Thornback rays

Tropical Sharks

When you think of sharks, you’ll probably imagine them swimming through tropical waters. Although sharks can live in warm and cold waters, and they are found in every ocean on Earth, many shark species live near the equator.

Head over to our Coral Seas zone to find sharks from tropical seas – see how many individuals you can spot:

  • Port Jackson Sharks
  • Japanese Hound Shark

Port Jackson sharks with their unique banding colouration    

Large Sharks

All of the sharks at our aquarium are chosen with their future very much in mind. Whilst baby sharks can be born really small, many species grow rapidly as they mature, so we carefully consider the adult size of all of our sharks (and our fish) to ensure that none of them will grow too large for their displays and have to be re-homed.

This is why we don’t have any big sharks at our aquarium. The largest sharks you can see here are around 1 metre in length when fully grown. We strongly believe that it is our responsibility to provide long-term, sustainable homes for all of our fish, both for now and in the future.

Find out more about our captive breeding programme and conservation values.

Rays and Skates

Something that might come as a bit of a surprise to you: rays and skates are actually members of the shark family! In fact, they are flattened versions of sharks, but they have a number of crucial differences.

You can find many different species of rays and skates – including blonde, thornback and painted rays, and a Common Stingray – in our open-topped Bay of Rays, housed in our Urban Jungle giant botanical house.  As well as Ocellate River Stingrays and Vermiculate River Stingrays in our Amazing Amazon display!



Juvenile Ray born at Bristol Aquarium

Baby Sharks

Have you ever wondered how baby sharks (‘pups’) are born? Sharks are actually born in one of three ways:

  • Eggs are laid (in a similar way to birds)
  • Eggs hatch inside the mother and then are born
  • The babies grow inside their mothers (like that of humans)

You can see baby sharks developing inside egg cases and freshly hatched juvenile sharks growing in the nursery tanks in our Learning Lab.

Also, if you look closely in our Bay of Rays tank, you might be able to spot the egg case of a ray or a skate, known as a ‘mermaid’s purse’.

Caution! Our floor surfaces change throughout the aquarium. For safety reasons we advise visitors not to wear stiletto heels during their visit.

If you would like to come along and meet our spectacular shark species and watch them glide gracefully through the water, buy your tickets online and enjoy discounted prices.