Various scientific studies of sharks in the Med in recent years have concluded that populations continue to show a drastic decline. There are nearly 500 species worldwide but fewer than 50 are lucky enough to cruise the shores of Cannes and St Tropez. The most common species here, and most commonly seen on fish stalls and menus, is the roussette or saumonette – the dogfish.
It seems sharks are however increasingly ending up on quayside fishmongers’ stalls and in town fish markets such as the phenomenal market at Sete by the coast. One fish merchant was recently offered a 3 metre, 400 kg shortfin which he divided into three huge chunks and sold to local poissoneries. His experience is that fishermen are bringing in sharks more frequently in recent years. And one local fish merchant adds that they’re larger sharks than he was seeing several years ago. Happily the shortfin, like most sharks, isn’t interested in eating you or your lilo. As long as there’s plenty of seafood around, and tuna and mackerel, you’re pretty safe - shark attacks in the Med are extremely rare. It doesn’t mean Mediterranean sharks aren’t scary of course. The basking shark can be 15 metres long and would give you a bit of a shock after your bouillabaisse and half bottle of cold Picpoul de Pinet. But when sharks come close to the coast, to the beach, it’s usually just because of the currents, not to check out the bathers. The 400 kg shortfin, for example, wasn’t caught by a guy standing on the rocks (obviously). It was caught 54 km off the coast. That’s about 30 miles.