29 June 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Scotland

Image © Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. 
Shaun Bryan, Volunteer for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT), informs us about all the latest Basking Shark sightings in Scotland.

"Since the end of May, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust’s community sightings network has received reports of an incredible 82 Basking Shark sightings! Two separate reports came in on the 3rd of June, one at Stoerhead Lighthouse, the other from near Milton, Tiree. Another shark was spotted two days later in the same area, with another in the sound of Jura and Inverlussa on the same day. 2 were spotted together in the sound of Mull on the 4th June and another individual was seen on the 5th near Mannal, Tiree, followed by another 3 separate sightings from the same area, the next day.   

The 7th was even busier, with 3 sighting reports: one of 2 individuals and another 2 sightings of 3 individuals – all once again around Tiree. 2 sightings were reported on the 11th June: the first, a single shark near Holoman Island in the sound of Raasay, and the second was another report of a single individual, this time near Coll.

The 13th June saw a report of a sighting in the final approach to the Craignure ferry terminal, on the Isle of Mull. More widespread sightings were recorded on the 14th June from Stoerhead Lighthouse, from  Gunna Sound and at Hawes Bank (between Tiree and Barra); where 3 sharks were reported together. Another Tiree sighting was reported on the 16th June, this time at Gott Bay. A single individual was seen at Carnaburg on the 19th, another at Faraid Head near Durness; but it was on the 25th of June that we received this month’s single report of a large school, with an estimated 52 individuals seen together near Hynish Isle, once again near the region’s hotspot, Tiree."


*Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

28 June 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland

Image © Irish Basking shark Project.
Enda McKeogh from the Irish Basking shark Project, updates us with the latest sightings in Co. Kerry, SW Ireland.

"Shark season officially started in the Kerry study area during a calm period at the start of April. It made for ideal conditions for fieldwork and allowed us to get a solid start on the season. 25 sharks were tagged over three days, mostly around the Blaskets in County Kerry, but one tag was deployed off of the Cork coast and we have already had our first re-sightings of the season. The team enjoyed sightings of other marine megafauna during our fieldwork too, including Minke Whales, Risso’s Dolphins, Common Dolphins, porpoise and even 2 Humpbacks off the Cork coast. 

It has been somewhat quiet since, with few sightings but the team are ready to go whenever they show themselves! The team is planning to deploy a pop-off archival tag this season in the Kerry study area in order to provide information on past location and depth of the shark. This data is used to monitor the activities of Basking Sharks when not on the surface and will contribute to the conservation of the species through the identification of key habitats and environmental drivers for the species.

It has been quiet in Donegal so far this season with sightings of sharks few and far between. The team here is ready to move as soon as the chance arises and have big plans for the season. To investigate shark movements and predator- prey associations the team plan to deploy numerous different types of tracking tags on the sharks, including five satellite relaying tags.  It is hoped these pioneering Fastloc GPS-enabled tags will relay live positions and record fine scale movements of the sharks. Timed depth recorders will also be deployed this year following on from last year’s successful deployment for the depth charge project.  

The Monster Munch project was in full swing over the last few months. It aims to engage the fishing communities of Inishowen on a personal level and develop a working relationship between local people and the scientific community undertaking research on the Inishowen coast. The project delivered an educational programme promoting the Basking Shark into five coastal community schools on the Inishowen Peninsula which has been hugely successful. 

This blog will be kept updated with the research team’s progress over the season and will hopefully have good news to report".

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

* The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project

22 June 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Image © John Batten.
Jane Alcock, Project Coordinator for the Seaquest Basking Shark Project, has kindly written this blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date on all the latest Basking Shark sightings from Cornwall. 

"The Cornwall Wildlife Trust Basking Shark Project - now in its fifth year - started on the 1st June and will run to the 31st August. During that time, our trained volunteers will carry out a scientific survey at Hella Point, close to Land’s End.

Hella Point is a rocky headland on a beautiful and wild part of the Cornish coast, popular with bird watchers, walkers and field researchers due to the incredible variety of marine life which can be seen. 
It overlooks a highly productive patch of sea, with lots of plankton during the spring, summer and early autumn months, and so lots of Basking Sharks.

Our volunteers survey during all daylight hours for three months of the project. The data they gather helps us to understand what is happening to the Basking Shark population within the county. Last year numbers were down sadly, but so far this year we’ve had consistent sightings, so we’re hoping that this is going to be a good year! We’ve even had reports of tiny 1.5 metre basking sharks, which are potentially juvenile sharks at birth, so we’re keeping a close look out for more!"


06 June 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

Basking Shark fin © Manx Basking Shark Watch
Basking Shark © Manx Basking Shark Watch.

Hayley Dolton © Manx Basking Shark Watch
Haley Dolton © Manx
Basking Shark Watch.
Haley Dolton, 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. 

"The Basking Shark season (as well as the motorbike season) has just kicked off on the Isle of Man! So far, a total of 43 sharks have been spotted around this beautiful island, with 36 sightings occurring from the 20th of May. This is a great start in terms of Basking Shark sightings and hopefully it will continue until the end of the season in August.

Hopefully the first trip on the Manx Basking Shark Watch boat, Happy Jack, will happen over the next couple days (weather permitting!) enabling surveys, tagging and DNA samples to be conducted. 
Together with Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch, we have had a few trips out on the boat Girl Pat. On our first trip we spotted a 7m Basking Shark feeding off Chickens Rock. It also passed under our boat, giving us a great look at its gill arches and the gracefulness a shark of that size can display. We were also lucky enough to spot a 4m shark near Niarbyl on our second trip on Girl Pat.

It was great to see these sharks up close and hopefully we will see plenty more on Happy Jack and from land!"