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Saving sharks through Mucus

Updated: 19 hours ago

We are very excited to be able to announce that we have today launched our shark mucous sampling project which has been made possible through initial funding support from Sea-Changers. 

With scientific institution support, the project objective is to collect circa 250 mucous samples which will be held in a long term storage facility to await analysis.

With up to 20 sub samples being available from a single mucous sample, this project has the potential to provide material for 5000 individual areas of study.

The samples will be made available to scientific organisations who are pursuing relevant areas of study and will enable DNA, stable isotope and fatty acid analysis which will assist with population, kinship and other areas of study.

Sharks are classed as a data poor species so any information obtained will help underpin successful national and international shark fisheries management.

Recreational sea angling charter skippers will be trained in a non invasive mucous collection technique and collect the mucous samples from a number of shark species caught and released by recreational sea anglers. 

As we progress through this exciting project we will post updates on this blog.

For more information or if you are a charter skippers who wants to take part in this project contact us. We will be contacting our contributing skippers soon to arrange training.

Update 1st March 2024

Its over 2 years since Dr. Simon Thomas and myself set ourselves the challenge of collecting mucous from sharks and extracting DNA so its really exciting to now be in the final stages of planning and the initial stages of the execution of this project

This week we received the medical grade cool boxes which will be used to store and transfer the swab samples from the recreational charter vessels, a purchase made possible from the support of our partner, sea-changers.

All of a sudden the project feels even more exciting, if that were possible.........?

We are truly humbled by the amount of interest and support from the recreational sea angling charter skippers, and anglers, without whom the mucous collection element of this project could not be delivered.

Their continued assistance and participation in all our work is hugely encouraging and is a source of motivation for the Pat Smith Database team.

As always the quality of the recreational sector input is exceptional and more than justifies their collective title of "Experts by Experience".

Dr Simon Thomas is currently dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on the training materials and other bits n pieces. Once the rest of the kit arrives he will begin to deliver on board training with the skippers and crew who see the first sharks in our waters each year.

Update 16th May 2024

Simon has now prepared our first 26 swab tubes and once I create the record cards we are ready to rock n roll!! …… soooo exciting.

We have now reached the point where we need the support of our "Experts by Experience" colleagues otherwise known as, the recreational sea angling community, to secure some days at sea to begin the fieldwork stage of our Shark Mucous Sampling project.

In the meantime Simon will produce more swab tubes and we will arrange to have the first collection kits delivered to our skipper partners.

Looking forward to getting our first swab sample, but will it be from a Blue, a Porbeagle or perhaps even a Thresher…?

The UK has a tremendous shark fishery, managed by skippers and anglers who are leaders in shark handling and catch and release protocol with an absolute focus on shark conservation. Their engagement with this project will increase our level of knowledge of these apex predators and contribute further to their conservation.

Stay in touch to receive updates as the field work progresses.

Update 22nd July 2024

Its been a busy couple of weeks for the Pat Smith Database, being part of the group who hosted the successful NOAA Apex Predator team visit to the UK to launch the 2024 Blue Shark Tagging Programme as well as progressing our Non Invasive Shark Mucous Swabbing project.

Apart from the a couple of swabbing kits which are now on their way, the skippers who have generously agreed to assist us with this project have received their kits and the necessary training.

Some of the skippers supporting this project, or as we prefer to call them, Experts by Experience, are Andrew Alsop, Luke Evans, Dan Hawkins, Sam Narbett, Robin Chapman, Andy Howell, John Locker, Murray Collings, Dan Margetts, Danny Vokins, Joe Filipe plus SACGB committee member, Kevin Tapper.

So far we have successfully swabbed over 50 blue and porbeagle sharks in an area covering from the Celtic Deeps to the Isle of Wight and are super excited to see what the coming weeks deliver.

The swab samples will be made available to scientific organisations who are pursuing relevant areas of study and will enable DNA, stable isotope and fatty acid analysis which will assist with population, kinship and other areas of study. We know you are as interested in the outcomes of this work as we are so we will share these with you as the project progresses.

Sharks are classed as a data poor species. By working together the recreational sea angling community is helping address this so we can protect these magnificent fish and maintain the health of our oceans.

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