31 August 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.

"A shark with a white tag was filmed back in July by dive photographer Mark Harding of www.eyemocean.com off the Isle of Coll. The visual tags which we deploy are colour coded by deployment area and numbered to identify the individual. Green tags are deployed in Kerry, red are deployed in Cork while white and yellow are deployed in Donegal. This is very exciting as the team had not deployed any white tags this season when the video was taken meaning that this is the first inter-annual re-sighting of an animal tagged as a part of our visual tagging project. Unfortunately, the stills taken from the video don’t allow us identify the individual as the tag is covered with fouling but the small ring at the front of the tag suggests to us that this was deployed with a timed depth recorder. This allows us to narrow the identity of the shark down but we will never know for sure. It does give us valuable information on the longevity of the tags and displays their usefulness in studying the sharks spatial and temporal movements and also simple mark-recapture studies. 

* View the video
If you see a basking shark with a visual tag attached please report it on www.baskingshark.ie."

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

* The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project

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.

"
As a part of the Monster Munch project, the Donegal team has deployed all 5 of their satellite tracking tags. Iascagáin,  Banba, Colm doesn't Cille, Bunagee Beauty and Green Marine have all been deployed in the Inishowen area. It was hoped that the tags would relay live positions of the sharks but only 2 have reported in; Green Marine has travelled 10 miles between the 8th and 12th of August while Colm doesn’t Cille (4m long juvenile) has travelled about 250 miles between the 8th and 20th of August and checked in just west of Loop Head in Clare. The team was hoping all the tags would relay live positions of the sharks but they are proving slow to  check in. This is not the end of the world though as the fast lock GPS tags deployed will provide a treasure trove of information once they detach from the animal allowing us to construct a complete 3-D track of the sharks movements.
Map 1
Map 2











Map 1
shows locations where tags were deployed. Green track shows movements of Green Marine.

Map 2 shows movements of Colm doesn’t Cille.


This season has been a difficult one for fieldwork, conditions had been poor resulting in very low numbers of sharks being sighted in May, June and July. This meant that the team did not have the option of picking and choosing the sharks they wanted to tag and had to take what came their way. Hopefully in the coming weeks the tags will relay more live positions allowing us to gain some insight into these leviathans movements. Click here to keep up to date with the sharks movements and our work."

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

* The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Image © Rory Goodall.
Rory Goodall, from Elemental Tours in Penzancehas kindly written this blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date with all the latest Basking Shark sightings in Cornwall. 

"Basking Sharks are still being seen in good numbers around the west coast of Cornwall over the last week, with groups of up to 6 sharks spotted.  We also saw approximately 20 sharks over a 5 mile stretch of coast on just one day – all 7-9m in length!
On the south coast we’re still seeing lots of smaller sharks, 2-3m long in smaller groups, usually in two’s and three’s. The sea still seems to be very productive – the sharks are not usually still around in these numbers. All around our patch we’re still seeing lots of jellies, plankton and ocean sunfish in the same vicinity as the sharks, and in some areas we’re seeing Minkes and Common Dolphins as well.
There have been some cases of harassment of the Basking Sharks, especially along the coast around Sennen Cove, so please make sure you stick to the Shark Trust Code of Conduct.
Nevertheless, what a great season we’re having – long may it continue!"

Websites:

Basking Shark Hotspot - Scotland

Basking Shark © Ian Judd.
Jonny Adams, volunteer for the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) keeps us up to date with sightings from the west coast of Scotland.
"Since the start of July a total of 64 encounters have been reported on our community sightings network (as of mid-August). The Isle of Coll and Tiree continue to be favoured feeding grounds for Basking Sharks and on a number of occasions large groups (in excess of 40 animals) have been sighted around the south coast of Tiree.

In mid-July tags were fitted onto eight Basking Sharks off Coll, Tiree, Hyskeir and Canna. The tags, which use satellites to record the sharks positions daily, have enabled us to follow their journey over the course of the last 30 days. Two of the sharks have spent the entire month feeding of the south-west coast of Tiree and were joined in the area at the start of August by two other sharks tagged north of Canna. A further two sharks tagged off Tiree have spent the month travelling north along the west coast of Western Isles. The remaining two animals tagged at Tiree have both left the area, one going east to Colonsay and the other going south where it is currently circling the north coast of Ireland.

If you’d like to find out more information about the project, please click here.

To keep up to date with the movements of the tagged Basking Sharks, please click here.
"

Websites:
*
Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust

17 August 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Image © Rory Goodall.
Rory Goodall, from Elemental Tours in Penzancehas kindly written this blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date with all the latest Basking Shark sightings in Cornwall. 

"Sightings increased phenomenally around the Lands’ End area last week, with more than 40 sharks sighted! So far, this year has been incredibly unusual: usually a few sharks are spotted here in southwest Cornwall at the height of summer; however our peak-time for Baskers is late spring. This year our peak-time seems to have moved much further into the summer. 

We are seeing lots of plankton in the water at the moment; at the same time a number of Leatherback Turtles have also been recorded. However by last Monday the Baskers were gone as the stormy conditions returned to the Southwest.

We’d never had a year like 2011, which was abysmal for Basking Shark sightings. However this year has been equally as extraordinary, due to the large number of sharks spotted. Long may it continue
!"

Websites:

07 August 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Image © Rory Goodall.
Rory Goodall, from Elemental Tours in Penzancehas kindly written this blog for the Shark Trust, keeping us up to date with all the latest Basking Shark sightings in Cornwall. 

"Since the last blog we have seen good numbers of Basking Sharks around West Cornwall, with plenty of Baskers also seen around the Lizard – Porthkerris Divers reported 7-8 sharks, mostly small, with one estimated at approximately 1.5m.
Although the weather has changed back to the unsettled pattern we experienced throughout most of June and July, there are still a fair few sharks around.  Last weekend NCI Coastwatch spotted an enormous Basking Shark, estimating its dorsal fin to be 1m high!  A local fisherman also reported seeing the same shark, noting it was the largest he’d ever seen.
The largest gathering of Baskers seen so far this year was on July 30th in the Whitesands Bay/Sennen area – with approximately 20 sharks counted.  Until last week most sharks in West Cornwall had been spotted north of Lands End, but since then I’ve heard reports of 4 or 5 from the south coast of Cornwall and Devon.

Lots of sightings are being sent through from the National Trust Mayon Cliff Lookout – a big thank-you to them!"

Websites:

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

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

"Since the 24th July, Basking Sharks have been steadily sighted in Manx waters again! This is probably because of a spell of good weather allowing plankton to stratify in the water column.  

On the 27th of July, Happy Jack went out to try and make the most of these sightings and to much success! In approximately 3 hours, all 3 of the MK10 PAT tags were on and 6 DNA samples were taken. A very productive 3 hours! 

One shark that was tagged, Eric, had also been tagged in 2011, which is great for the continuity of the MBSW project. Eric was also completely unfazed by the tagging and kept approaching the boat! 

Hopefully, the plankton will stay on the surface of the sea for a little longer, allowing us to observe the sharks for the rest of this month."

Websites:

01 August 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Image © Cat Gordon.
Cat Gordon, Conservation Officer at the Shark Trust, goes Basking Shark watching off the coast of Cornwall. 

Basking Shark © Cat Gordon.
"On Saturday 21st July 2012, I finally managed to get out to sea with Rory Goodall of Elemental Tours, in the hope of spotting some sharks. I say finally, as it’s been something we’ve been trying to organise for longer than I can remember, but thanks to the awful British weather blowing up every time it was planned or busy work schedules to blame, it hasn’t quite happened. Until now. With summer finally deciding to arrive, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect – sunshine, calm seas, blue skies and not a cloud in sight or a hint of wind and as a bonus, there had been sightings of sharks in the area as recently as that morning. 

Leaving from Penzance on board his RIB, Ocean Ranger, Rory puts on a great show and kept everyone informed about the history to the surrounding areas, from Penzance, Mousehole and Land’s End to the infamous Minack Theatre. Towards Mousehole, we encountered our first ocean dweller – a juvenile Ocean Sunfish less than a metre in length. Fairly wary of the passing boat, he didn’t stick around long and so we were soon on our way again. We soon saw several fins breaking the water, not of sharks, but porpoises. Moving from the Channel to the Atlantic Ocean, we saw a number of Grey Seals playing in the water by Longships Lighthouse off Land’s End, but still no sharks. Every seal, porpoise, bird, buoy or flag appeared to be a fin from a distance, until finally, the tell-tale fins of a Basking Shark really did emerge. A relatively ‘small’ 5m basker, cruising along feeding, but moving quicker than I could keep up with in my fins, so I settled for watching from the boat. It was an amazing sight and everyone was certainly buzzing from the experience. In Sennen Cove we saw two sharks, one on either side of the bay. These sharks seemed much more relaxed and so I jumped in the water again ahead of the shark and watched as she steadily cruised past me, completely un-phased by my presence. Keeping at a distance I swam next to her until it was clear she could out-swim me even at cruising speed, and I paused before she turned around and swam back past me (Basking Sharks have been observed feeding in a zig-zag motion across plankton blooms). In total, we were lucky enough to see eight baskers. Most were around the 5/6m mark, but two spotted together were much larger at easily 8m, unfortunately this pair didn’t stick around for long. Having spent so long working on the Basking Shark Photo-ID project cataloguing and analysing thousands of fin images, it’s great to get out in the water and see them up close. And yes, I was watching out for any distinguishing features, nicks or notches along the edges and surfaces of the fins! Luckily for the sharks, all dorsal fins were in great condition and no hint of a propeller nick, rope burn or net scar could be seen. All in all, it was a fantastic day and I couldn’t recommend getting out on the water enough. 


If you’re planning on Basking Shark watching this season, then please be sure to choose a responsible tour operator that is WiSe accredited and safely follows the Code of Conduct."

Websites: