Sharks Inspiring Action and Research with Communities

National Lottery Awards update :

Project SIARC is the Wales Project of the Year!

A huge thank you to everyone who voted for us!

What is Project SIARC?

The marine environment in Wales is teeming with life; beneath the often-murky waters are little understood species of shark, skate and ray (elasmobranchs) of conservation importance.
Project SIARC is catalysing links between fishers, researchers, communities and government to collaborate and safeguard elasmobranchs and support a green recovery in Wales.

Our objectives are:

Project SIARC co-designed with fishers and their associations or clubs, through strengthened and diversified working relationships.

Priority data gaps on how elasmobranchs use protected features in two Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) are filled.

Understanding of diverse perspectives used to overcome barriers to participation and achieve greater equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in Welsh marine conservation.

Schoolchildren from diverse backgrounds achieve learning outcomes on sustainability and the natural world and demonstrate confidence in digital technologies.

A wider demographic access the marine environment in Wales using virtual reality, eggcase hunt activities and underwater footage through Instant Wild.

A greater diversity of communities in Wales learn about the marine environment, using elasmobranchs as a flagship in bilingual communications.

Is Wales important for
sharks, skates & rays?

Coastal waters of Wales are home to a diverse range of marine species, including 27 species of sharks, skates and rays (known as elasmobranchs). Elasmobranchs are an integral part of Wales’ natural heritage, with significant conservation and cultural importance. Despite their importance, little is known about the biology and ecology of these species.
Project SIARC is delivering a fisher-integrated research programme to gather data on elasmobranchs and their associated habitats.

Our focal species are:


  • Other names in Wales: monkfish, fiddle fish, maelgi (welsh)
  • Biology: Grows to 240 cm; gives birth to 7-25 pups
  • Status: Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List; part of one of the most threatened elasmobranch families
  • Interesting fact: Angelsharks were once used by Romans to cover shields and sword handles as their skin is extremely tough

Common Stingray

  • Other names in Wales: blue stingray, Morgath ddu (welsh)
  • Biology: Grows to 140 cm; gives birth to 4 – 9 pups
  • Status: Vulnerable on IUCN Red List
  • Interesting fact: Historically, people in Wales believed stingray liver had medicinal benefits when boiled down


  • Other names in Wales: spiny dogfish, rock salmon, Ci pigog (welsh)
  • Biology: Grows to 125 cm; gives birth to 1 – 32 pups
  • Status: Vulnerable on IUCN Red List
  • Interesting fact: The species gets its name due to a small venomous spine that is found at the base of its dorsal fin which is used for protection


  • Other names in Wales: school shark, snapper shark, Ci glas (welsh)
  • Biology: Grows to 195 cm; gives birth to 6 – 52 pups
  • Status: Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List
  • Interesting fact: Tope tend to move round in schools, which can be segregated by size and sex

Flapper Skate

  • Other names in Wales: Common skate, Morgath drwynfain (welsh)
  • Biology: Grows to 285cm total length; eggcases laid in spring/summer
  • Status: Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List
  • Interesting fact: The Flapper skate is the largest skate in Europe, with a wingspan of up to 2 metres!

Blue Skate

  • Other names in Wales: Common skate, Morgath las (welsh)
  • Biology: Grows to 150cm total length; eggcases laid in spring/summer
  • Status: Critically Endangered on IUCN Red List
  • Interesting fact: The Blue Skate is actually brown in colour, and has a more southerly range than the Flapper skate

Where is Project SIARC working?

Project SIARC operates throughout Wales, but community engagement and research is focussed at two Special Areas of Conservation (SAC): ‘Pen Llŷn a’r Sarnau’ SAC and ‘Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries’ SAC.

Pen Llŷn a'r Sarnau SAC (PLAS)

Located in North West Wales, PLAS covers over 146,000 hectares of sea, coast, estuary, lagoons, bays, sandbanks and reefs that support diverse wildlife, including those unique to Wales.

Carmarthen Bay and Estuaries SAC (CBAE)

Located in South West Wales, CBAE covers over 66,000 hectares and encompasses four large estuaries. This site has several protected features, including sandbanks, mudflats, sandflats, inlets, bays and Atlantic salt meadows.

Who’s involved?

Project SIARC is a multidisciplinary project, combining both social and biological sciences. It is led by Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is completed in partnership with six delivery partners and 13 collaborative partners.

We work with coastal communities around Wales, including commercial and recreational fishers, citizen scientist volunteers, primary schools, and researchers. If you’d like to get involved, find out more at our ‘Get Involved’ page.

Delivery Partners


Bangor University are conducting hydrodynamic modelling to help design and interpret results from environmental DNA (eDNA) surveys.


Blue Abacus are developing Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) for Project SIARC and will lead analysis of BRUVs footage from PLAS.


Minorities in Shark Sciences are helping to deliver our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion work package, and assisting organisation and delivery of a skill sharing workshop.


North Wales Wildlife Trust (NWWT) are leading some of the Project SIARC citizen science initiatives, including organising archival research groups and Shark Trust’s Great Eggcase Hunt across Wales.


Shark Trust are delivering elasmobranch and eggcase ID guides for Wales, to support fisher engagement and citizen science research. They are also supporting NWWT in delivering Great Eggcase Hunts across Wales


Swansea University are leading school engagement for Project SIARC, including an exciting expansion of 3D printing in schools to bring our focal species to classrooms around Wales.

Collaborative Partners

Angel Shark Project: Wales will continue to run in parallel with Project SIARC and will co-deliver the Angelshark specific elements of the project.

Current Funders

This project is funded by the Nature Networks Programme. It is being delivered by the Heritage Fund, on behalf of the Welsh Government.

Get involved

There are a range of ways that you can get involved with Project SIARC from actively participating in events to aiding in historical research and inspiring future generations to engage with the marine environment.


© 2022 – ZSL Zoological Society of London