23 May 2013

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

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. 

"The basking shark season has well and truly begun on the Isle of Man! The first sharks were spotted by the public on the 14th of May and have continued to be seen up to the 19th of May. 

Sightings have been reported from the traditional basking shark hotspots of Peel, Niarbyl, Bradda Head and Port Erin. Schools of four individuals have been observed on a couple of occasions enjoying the rich, Manx plankton. This is interesting, as sightings of larger schools will hopefully mean we will observe some interesting behaviour between individuals this year.

A boat survey was carried out onboard Girl Pat with Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch on the 19th of May and a 6-7m basking shark was spotted! It swam directly underneath the boat, displaying its massive size very effectively against our small boat.

The finishing touches are being made to the Manx Basking Shark Watch boat, Happy Jack, and we should be in the water very soon deploying the 10 tags we have this year!


09 May 2013

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 Basking Shark season has begun on the North Cornwall Coast, as the warmer, sunny Cornish days have bought a few patches of plankton to the surface. A small Basking Shark was reported by a commercial potting boat at 8 miles west of Newquay...feeding open mouthed, circling at the surface. News of other sightings from our Cornwall Marine Life Boat Operators Group are also coming in, with a total of 8 seen this past couple of weeks at Falmouth, Porth Kerris, Lands End, Newquay and Lundy.

We are spotting for further sharks as the gorgeous spring sunshine continues....with Tope, in particular, coming in during our deep sea fishing trips.


Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland

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

"The first sighting in Ireland this year was of two basking sharks on April 4th off Slea Head, County Kerry, which was fairly consistent with the pattern seen over the last ten years here. A couple more sightings subsequently followed in the next couple of days from Counties Waterford in the south-east and Donegal in the north-west; they had ‘arrived’. In the following week numbers began to build off Slea Head with sightings of 6 and then 12 sharks seen on shore watches; unfortunately due to the difficult prevailing sea conditions no boat work was able to be carried out. This was all against a backdrop of cool northerly winds and below normal sea surface temperatures, in the region of 9 degrees centigrade. For the second half of April sightings then dropped off again with just one or two animals seen briefly at the surface and the odd breaching shark recorded. In the last week conditions improved dramatically with warmer south westerlies, and a subsequent increase in air and sea temps, though still below normal. But despite the intensive observer effort, both from shore and boat, no sharks were showing.

No plankton surveys have been carried out in Kerry as of yet but anecdotal evidence from divers reporting good visibility indicates little sign of a bloom. There has been little sign of the usual sand-eel run that coincides with the plankton bloom here also, but some common dolphin and minke whale activity is being observed.

Word from our colleagues in the NW working in Donegal where some great tagging work has been undertaken (see www.baskingshark.ie ) is similar with a few shark sightings trickling in. They have the boat in the water and are ready for action once the sharks appear and conditions are favourable for fieldwork again.

So despite the seemingly consistent arrival of the sharks, we’re just going to have to wait and see how the season develops here and how the food chain shapes up once water temps rise

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

* The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project

03 May 2013

Basking Shark Hotspot - Cornwall

Basking Shark © Andrew Pearson.
The Shark Trust's Conservation Officer, John Richardson, keeps us up to date with the latest Basking Shark reports. 

"AK Wildlife Cruisers, a Falmouth-based wildlife tour operator, reported the first Basking Shark sighting of the season on the 15th April. The 8m long shark was spotted feeding near the Old Wall (a popular dive site), off St. Antony’s Lighthouse on Cornwall’s Rose Peninsula.

From May til late October, these graceful giants patrol UK and Irish waters feeding on plankton but with sea temperatures around the Southwest still below 10°C, phytoplankton growth is much reduced compared to this time last year. With less phytoplankton in the water column, zooplankton, in turn, is not present in the volume which usually draws Basking Sharks into surface waters to feed.

However, with forecasts suggesting spring is on the horizon, keep an eye out for Britain’s largest shark - especially in all UK and Irish hot-spots: England’s Southwest, the Isle of Man, the west coast of Scotland and the northern coast of Ireland.

The Shark Trust’s Basking Shark Project records Basking Shark sightings, predominantly reported in British waters, in order to better understand the migration patterns of this vulnerable species.

Shark enthusiasts of all ages can get involved in this project by keeping an eye out for Basking Sharks during the warmer months and submitting their sightings to our online database with as much information as possible.

Please note: water users should always remember to adhere to our Basking Shark Code of Conduct to ensure a safe, positive interaction between human and shark."

The Shark Trust