Surely for the inhabitants of Australia or South Africa, talking about sharks is more or less normal, because on their coasts they are very common. But here in Europe this is an anecdote, because in principle it is not thought that there are sharks in our seas. And in Mallorca, are there any sharks? Hoy hablaremos de este tema, de los tiburones en Mallorca.
In 1975 Steven Spielberg’s film “Jaws” was released. As well as having a good script, it was well done and had disturbing music. It was a real success and he managed to put the fear in our bodies. And surely since then the shark has been considered a killer beast, although in truth, the insignificant mosquitoes cause many more human deaths each year than sharks do. Seen from a biological point of view, the shark is a real gem that has existed on Earth for more than 400 million years. Since long before the dinosaurs, which also became extinct.
Types of sharks in the world
Having been on our planet for so long, sharks have diversified enormously and so there are more than 450 different types. From the smallest one, the dwarf lantern shark, which is only about 15 cms long, to the giant whale shark, which is about 12 mts long. And let’s not forget that scientifically speaking, they are all fish, not like killer whales or dolphins that are mammals.
Sharks in Mallorca
The Mediterranean Sea is somewhat open (Strait of Gibraltar and Suez Canal) and yes, in Mallorca and the waters around us there are also sharks. Some species come occasionally and others have their whole life cycle around here, but in general they have no interest in humans and do not represent any danger.
It is estimated that there are about 35 types that are common in our waters, and among them perhaps the ones that sound most familiar to us are The blue shark, the mako, the fox, the pilgrim, the moussle…
There are many others, and surely the most impressive is the white shark, of which some specimens have occasionally been caught in our islands.
These sharks, do they get caught in Mallorca?
If you go to the Mercado del Olivar, go to the fish market and be a little observant, you may find that sometimes there are sharks for sale. Obviously the name shark is not very commercial and they are not going to mark it that way, but if you buy mussels or dogfish, you are getting a fish that even if it is not very big is that, a small shark.
You could also find the blue shark but it is not as tasty, as it has a high ammonia content. And they also take and sell more types that perhaps do not sound so much to us (pintarroja (gató in Mallorcan) or mielga) in addition to others that are very little appreciated and sold in large slices and at very low prices.
The star, the great white shark
The most impressive of sharks. It is very large, usually about 5 meters but it is said that there are specimens of more than 7 meters. It is very large, usually about 5 meters but it is said that there are specimens of more than 7 meters. Its colour is dark at the top and white at the bottom, the perfect camouflage in its environment. A truly powerful creature whose favorite menu is seals and tuna.
They love tuna
A few years ago, before tourism was so important in Mallorca, fishing was essential, and in addition to other fish, tuna was also caught.
This was done with the Almadraba traps, a system of nets that is placed in the sea in the form of a maze and that manages to mislead the tuna. Hundreds of them concentrated and confused, a perfect prey. The white shark, which has vibration detection systems and micro-electric fields in the water, as well as an excellent sense of smell, will not miss a festival like this.
White sharks in Mallorca
It is estimated that in the 1960s and 1970s, there were usually about 40 traps set for fishing, especially in the northern area, the Bay of Pollensa. There, a place especially desired by fishermen was Sa Caleta, in Cape Pinar, because tuna was coming in all year round and there was very good fishing.
In the past, not very resistant natural fibres were used to make these traps, but from the 1960s synthetic nylon was used. This very thin material was difficult to see (especially in bad weather and waves) and very strong, so without looking for it, white sharks were caught in the nets.
The result? So Pep Domingo captured 3 great targets… in one week! And Pep Borrás 10 whites! in a few years. All this in the ’60s and ’70s.
There are countless photos that attest to all these captures at this time, photos in the ports with a great white shark, the fishermen, their women and children…
And what did they do with them?
Of the 30 or so great white sharks that were caught in those years, it is estimated that the vast majority ended up being cut up and sold on the market, simply as “fish”. They say it was very tasty.
Depending on how old you are, you may have unknowingly eaten white sharks too…
The sea has no borders and naturally there are still sharks in our waters in the Balearic Islands, including great whites. However, as there are fewer and fewer tunas, it is increasingly rare to see one of these specimens. Of the other types, occasionally some of the larger ones are caught, such as the cañabota or quite a few of the smaller ones, which will sell well in the market (mussels or dogfish).
But in general we must be very calm, because here on our coasts they do not represent any real danger to humans.
To know more, we recommend the book “Sharks in the Balearic Sea” by J. Poyatos and Ana M. Abril
Ana María Abril is currently the vice-president of Shark Med, an NGO that fights for the recovery and conservation of sharks in the western Mediterranean.