23 November 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Scotland

Basking Shark © Ian Judd.
Morven Summers, Volunteer Coordinator for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), concludes this year’s blog from Scotland, as the basking shark season draws to an end.

"Between June and October 2011, we have had a total of 51 reported encounters of basking sharks, totalling 280 individuals. Our sightings are all from the West Coast of Scotland; ranging from the isle of Barra on the West; to the Isle of Lewis in the North; to the Mull of Kintyre in the South.

There were 14 sightings of groups numbering more than 3 individuals; 7 of which were of groups of more than 10, 5 of which were of groups of more than 20. The largest single group spotted numbered 53, spotted off the coast of Barra.


The coasts off the isles of Barra, Coll and Tiree yielded the most sightings. Indeed, over half of the total amount of sightings were from this area and all the groups of more than 10 basking sharks were from these locations.


There were 12 sightings in June, 23 in July, 14 in August, 1 in September and 1 in October.  In comparison to previous summers, there have been far fewer recorded sightings of basking sharks and significantly fewer groups of more than 20 animals reported."

 Websites:
*
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

24 August 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland

Basking Shark © Mark Harding on the 26th June Inner Hebrides.












Lucy Hunt MSc., research scientist on the Irish Basking shark Project, updates us with the latest sightings in Co. Kerry, SW Ireland.

"Basking Shark sightings are few and far between at the moment around the Emerald Isle although there was a good spate of the leviathans off the NW coast earlier on in the month. This allowed for Emmett Johnston and Donal Griffin, both Irish Basking Shark researchers to deploy Time Depth Recorder (TDR) tags and further coloured numbered tags to help us identify what the sharks are upto around the coast. We’ve had two returns on our coloured numbered tags, one shark tagged in Kerry and another in Donegal earlier in the season, both sharks were re-sighted in Scottish waters. We’ve also had one shark re-sighting from fin photo ID twice this year and once seen in 2005. We’re looking forward to using the Shark Trusts new fin photo ID catalogue, which has just been distributed, and collaborating with other Basking Shark groups on this endeavour. The Irish Basking Shark Project webpage has just been updated with lots of HD videos and pictures of sharks seen around Ireland, check it out at http://www.baskingshark.ie/. Also some of you might have seen the Irish Basking Shark Project on tv last week on BBC2 with Monty Halls, where Monty worked alongside the Irish Basking Shark Project and Irish Whale and Dolphin Group last summer here in Ireland. We’re not sure what the rest of the summer will bring; the weather has been mixed and so have the Basking Shark sightings with most sightings so far coming very early in the season. We’ll keep you informed if anything changes!".

Websites:
* Irish Basking Shark Project Website
* Irish Basking Shark Project on Facebook
*
The Shark Trust

* The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project

Basking Shark Hotspot - Scotland

Basking Shark © Ian Judd.
Sarah Erring, volunteer for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) keeps us up to date with sightings from the west coast of Scotland.

"During July there were 20 Basking Shark reports with 145 animals in total, almost half the number of those reported in 2010. The highest concentration of 20 Basking Sharks were sighted off Clabbach-Gallanach on the Isle of Coll on 1st July. The Isle of Coll (and adjacent Tiree) remains one of the Hebridean hotspots for Basking Sharks.

Mid-way through August and we have already had 201 sharks reported. On the 3rd August 53 Basking Sharks were reported at Muldoanich, just off the Isle of Barra. During the August period in 2010 over 380 animals were sighted, so the rise in sightings this month is encouraging news in comparison to the relatively low numbers recorded over the past few months."

Websites:
*
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

10 August 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

Basking Shark © Jane Young/Manx Basking Shark Watch. 

Niki Clear, from the Manx Wildlife Trust has kindly written a blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date on all the latest Basking Shark sightings from the Isle of Man hotspot. 
‘Luke’ tagged on 14th July off west
coast of IOM. Photo by Niki Clear
"In more usual years July is our busiest month, but this has not been a usual year. For the whole of July we have only had 46 sharks reported! The majority of these were in the first week, with 35 reported in 5 days. 

On our research boat, Happy Jack, there have been a lot of miles travelled all around the south of the Island with no sharks but we won’t give up. There was one very lucky break while a TV crew from Germany was filming on-board.  Amongst the diving gannets, hundreds of Manx Shearwaters and feeding minke whales, we chanced upon a cooperative 7m male shark with a very distinctive fin. The visiting film crew got unique footage of the whole encounter, including the tagging, from the roof of the boat. We are looking forward to seeing the finished film called ‘Men of the Sea’ which will be broadcast in Germany soon. And finding out where this male shark called Luke travels to over the next 9 months.

But since we haven’t had much luck on Happy Jack, a combination of rough seas and a lack of sharks at the surface has made this a difficult season. We are still hopeful we will be able to get a few more encounters, and get our remaining tags on at some point this season. There have been a few sightings trickling in since the 1st August so this could be a sign of another wave of basking sharks to Manx waters. Another boat trip tomorrow and we are ready for anything..."


Websites:

29 July 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland

Basking Shark © Mark Harding on the 26th June Inner Hebrides.
Lucy Hunt MSc., research scientist on the Irish Basking shark Project, updates us with the latest sightings in Co. Kerry, SW Ireland.

"Another shark tagged in Irish waters has been spotted off Scotland! A female shark tagged with white tag number 483 on the 28th of April 2011 off Tory island Co. Donegal was spotted on the 13th of July in Cliad Bay, near Isle of Coll, Scotland! Exciting news as this is our second re-sighting of an Irish shark in Scottish waters this year.

Few sharks are being spotted around the coastline but a small group have been around NW Donegal the past few days allowing research scientist Emmett Johnston to deploy TDR tags and collect more zooplankton samples to analyse predator prey relationships and understand the sharks movements better. Keep an eye out for Irish tagged sharks near you and please let us know if you have any sightings of our tagged sharks".

Websites:
* Irish Basking Shark Project Website
* Irish Basking Shark Project on Facebook
*
The Shark Trust

*The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project

22 July 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - France

Basking Shark © C. Hennache - APECS.
Marie HAMEON, volunteer from APECS, the French organization dedicated to the study and the conservation of Elasmobranchs, updates us with the latest basking shark sightings in Brittany, West of France.

"The season has begun early this year; about 50 sightings have been reported between the end of March and the beginning of May, mostly around the GlĂ©nan archipelago in south Brittany.  The months of May and June have been quite calm with only a few sightings, this is unusual as May and June period usually concentrate most of the south Brittany sightings.

On the 7th of April, our team managed to deploy a pop-up archival transmitting tag on a 7m male. Unfortunately, this satellite tag popped-off prematurely after 5 weeks of deployment. The shark was then on the continental slope in the northern Bay of Biscay. We are now working on the data collected via Argos system to reconstruct the most probable track of this shark and his diving profiles. These results will complete the information already gathered in the frame of a program developed in collaboration with the Manx Wildlife Trust and the Fundacion Malpelo in 2009. You can download the final report here

We hope that some more sightings will occur before the end of the summer. We have two other tags to deploy...
 "

Websites:
*The APECS Website
*The Shark Trust

08 July 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland

Basking Shark © Mark Harding on the 26th June Inner Hebrides.
Lucy Hunt MSc., research scientist on the Irish Basking shark Project, updates us with the latest sightings in Co. Kerry, SW Ireland.

"We have our first international Basking Shark re-sighting using fin photo-ID.  It is the same tagged shark G209 which had a very well marked fin - a photo was taken from the surface by Mark Harding at the Inner Hebrides at the end of June!  We are looking forward to comparing our photo catalogue with other Basking Shark teams to see if the sharks seen here in Ireland are turning up elsewhere like our tagged shark from the Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry!! "

Websites:
* Irish Basking Shark Project Website
* Irish Basking Shark Project on Facebook
*
The Shark Trust

01 July 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Scotland

Basking Shark © Ian Judd.

Sandra Koetter from the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) keeps us up to date with sightings from the west coast of Scotland.

"The first sighting of the season was reported at the end of March off Tiree. Usually we do not see Basking Sharks until mid June so this sighting was highly unusual for us.

After the March sighting we did not hear any other reports until May. Three encounters have been reported within a space of four days. The areas where sharks have been seen were Isle of Iona, Coll and between Barra and Tiree. The rest of the month was fairly quiet and we started receiving sightings again in June.

Last year we received 43 sightings of Basking Sharks for June alone, this year however, we have only 10 sightings for June so far. The Isle of Coll is still one of the hotspots for encountering these animals with reports from various places on the island. Barra, Canna and Hyskeir Lighthouse (southern entrance of The Minch) are the other areas where Basking Sharks have been reported from
..."

Websites:
*
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

27 June 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

Basking Shark © Jane Young/Manx Basking Shark Watch. 
Niki Clear, from the Manx Wildlife Trust has kindly written a blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date on all the latest Basking Shark sightings from the Isle of Man hotspot.
Basking Shark © Niki Clear.
"On Saturday the 11th there were reports of a dead Risso’s dolphin drifting meters from shore off Niarbyl on the west coast of the Isle of Man. When it finally washed ashore in a small cove in the cliffs, it was discovered to in fact be a 7m male Basking Shark! It was badly decomposed, and smelled pretty horrendous to be frank but this did not stop members of DAFF, Manx Basking Sharks Watch, Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch and the Dolphineers (volunteers for MBSW and MWDW) to get stuck into the dissection of this impressive animal. Samples of flesh, skin, teeth, gill rakers, claspers, the entire dorsal fin, and internal organs were collected to be sent away for analysis. There was no obvious cause of death, but a full stomach suggests that this shark was feeding up to the point of death. It may take several months but hopefully the samples collected will shed some light into the life and death of this wonderful but unfortunate basker.  

As for the live sharks here in Manx waters there has been a definite lull in the number of sightings over the last few weeks with only 19 sightings from the 11th to the 21st. But thankfully, on the 22nd they came back with a bang! 93 sightings reported in 3 days mostly along the coast around Peel (on the west coast). On the 23rd, during a chance outing on the tour boat ‘Pegasus’, an amazing 17 sharks were counted at the surface along a 3km stretch north of Peel in the space of an hour. But still the weather is stopping us from getting out on the MBSW boat and getting our shark encounters. Happy Jack has been out 3 days now in the last 2 weeks with no shark sightings, at least porpoise and Minke Whales are keeping us entertained. Fingers crossed for some good sharking weather for tomorrow..."

Websites:

23 June 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland


Basking Shark feeding on plankton soup (c) Nick Massett, skipper on Mhuc mhara, 
Kerry Basking Shark Project research rib.
Lucy Hunt MSc. is a research scientist on the Irish Basking shark Project working on the project in Co. Kerry, SW Ireland. 

"The season started with a bang here in Ireland the first sightings of sharks were back in mid-March when a Basking Shark was spotted off Waterford on St Patrick’s Day! From then on sightings started to trickle in until April when the weather really warmed up and the surrounding waters were full of plankton and shark reports of single sightings were coming in from all over the coastline and larger agglomerations of sharks (up to 100) were reported from NW Donegal and West Kerry, two of the main areas where the Irish basking shark team carry out research! It was just before the May bank holiday when most sharks surfaced and we were in the right place at the right time allowing a lot of our research to take place at the start of the season and keeping us very busy both in Donegal and Kerry.

The Inishowen based team in NW Donegal, led by research scientist Emmett Johnston successfully deployed and recovered the first ever Timed Depth Recorder on a Basking Shark. These sophisticated pieces of modern technology are designed to investigate the basking sharks surfacing habits in Irish and north-eastern Atlantic waters. Developed in Queens University Belfast with financial support from the Inishowen Development Partnership these prototype tags are pushing the limits of marine mega-fauna monitoring technology. The project team aim to record the secretive behaviour of the sharks when out of sight and under the surface.

At the Blasket Islands in Kerry we had a very successful field day with great teamwork from all involved as we deployed over 35 visual tags, obtained 15 shark slime samples for genetic studies, obtained dorsal fin photos for the photo id catalogue and took plankton samples for predator prey analysis as well as in water observations. At least 60 sharks were seen in the waters around the Blasket islands as well as four minke whales and over 20 common dolphins, a fantastic day on the water in Kerry!

* To read more about the field day in Kerry see my article on snorkelling with the basking sharks

Compared to the number of  Basking Shark sighting reports in April (78 reports of >300 sharks) there were only 20 reports of 58 basking sharks in May, this is probably partly due to the weather as it was one of the windiest months of May we have seen in a very long time, hence not so many people out on the coast and also not so conducive to spotting sharks. Most sharks that have been reported are in Donegal, Kerry, Cork and Waterford waters.

So far June has also been quite windy but there have been seven reports of sharks around Cork, Donegal, Mayo, Waterford and Galway. We will have to see what the rest of the month brings and we will keep blogging!

Websites:
* Find out more about Basking Shark sightings
* Irish Basking Shark Project Website
* Irish Basking Shark Project on Facebook

*
The Shark Trust

17 June 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

Basking Shark © Jane Young/Manx Basking Shark Watch. 
Niki Clear, from the Manx Wildlife Trust has kindly written a blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date on all the latest Basking Shark sightings from the Isle of Man hotspot.

"It is well into the season now but we have only had three sharky days out on MBSW's 'Happy Jack'. Very windy and rough weather all through May prevented us from getting out, and June isn't looking much better. Frustratingly there have been a surprising number of sightings from all over the south of the island despite the weather and rough sea. There have been 232 sightings reported since the beginning of May, a whopping 174 between the 28th May and the 3rd June alone.

Happy Jack’s first day out on the 2nd of June, and what a day. Straight away we sighted our first shark on our way out of the harbour. On the west coast of the island we came across 9 sharks by Fleshwick Bay showing some very interesting behaviour; close following, parallel swimming, circling and tail thrashing for several hours. But it’s gone downhill since then, our second and third day we only managed 3 full shark IDs all from small sharks, below 4m. The sharks have disappeared for the last few weeks, this has happened several years now. We are trying to figure out where they go in the middle of the season; so fingers crossed the sharks reappear along the Manx coast soon so we can get some shark slime.

One of our regular reporters sent us shocking photos of propeller damage to one of our beautiful sharks, highlighting the need for all boats around Basking Shark hotspots to take extra care during the summer season. It’s your responsibility to get out of the basking shark’s way, as it will not get out of yours. This isn’t just an isolated incident, as many of our sharks have horrific injuries on their dorsal fins from collisions with boats."


Websites: