20 July 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Basking Shark  © Annabelle Lowe.
Annabelle Lowe from Atlantic Diver in Newquay, has kindly written this blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date with all the latest Basking Shark sightings in Cornwall. 

"The end of June began the start of our Blue Shark Cage Diving Expeditions and although all conditions were favorable for a sighting, our days were filled with all other marine wildlife encounters: Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Harbour Porpoise, Seals and numerous Sea Birds but NO Blue Sharks. The water temperature has barely passed 13 degrees Celsius (Blue Sharks preferring temps of between 12 and 20) and the plankton that we would normally be seeing has been slowly maturing with only scatterings at the usual warm front sites we would see. Jellyfish too are thin on the ground; however sightings of Basking Sharks are trickling in with the juveniles coming through firstly at the end of May in ones and a larger group of 8, then a small group of three in June in Newquay Bay. 

In July oily patches of planktonic slick at the sea’s surface attracted a group of three Basking Sharks, two larger and one small one feeding just West of Newquay. In mid-July a mackerel angling  boat reported a 7m Basking Shark one and a half miles North of Newquay over a popular reef, feeding opened-mouthed in sea-state 3…a miracle in itself that he spotted it in the unrelenting chop….well done Colin! The Shark had a nick out of its dorsal fin which could help identify it in the Shark Trust photo-ID photo database.Sadly a mature female Pilot Whale dead Stranded on Mawgan Porth Beach but fascinatingly its tail Stock had been scavenged by what appeared to be Blue Shark. Bites uniform in size and the narrow crescent shape of the Blues were evident from the dorsal fin down to the tail fluke on both flank and underside. Shark expert Ian Fergusson believed it was likely to have occurred far offshore….amazing how nature wastes nothing!  We now wait for further Basking Shark sightings as the warmer weather helps lift the plankton to the surface…."