Friday, 19 September 2014

The rise of the sharks

Sea Life Surveys blog post...

The basking sharks arrived back in numbers during our shark charter with Kingfish Dive and Travel on the 19th July and moved further inshore to the west in the coming weeks as their numbers at the surface slowly increased. 

During a Whalewatch Explorer on the 28th July we encountered over twenty basking sharks leisurely quartering waters to the east of Coll. We observed some courtship behaviour with animals paired up in a linear position and we also observed the amazing spectacle of breaching. On the days to follow their numbers increased as we recorded over fifty in a close concentrated area on one particular cruise on the 31st July. As expected the plankton samples matched the abundance of sharks with high levels of copepods in the trawl. 

The third year of the basking shark tagging program involving the University of Exeter, Scottish Natural Heritage and ourselves got under-way at the end of July and the designated ten tags were fitted to sharks around the coastline of the isle of Coll. To follow the updated movements of these animals select the link - http://www.wildlifetracking.org/?project_id=1022.

A first report has been published for the basking shark tagging project which can be read here -
http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/commissioned_reports/752.pdf.

On the 15th August a film crew which included Martin Heyward Smith were aboard with us today filming basking sharks in Hebridean waters for an up and coming series on the wildlife in the area. We managed to track around seven sharks which included some very young animals.



The great thing about conservation research is that anyone can be directly involved in it. You can submit your Hebridean basking shark sightings to the HWDT (http://www.whaledolphintrust.co.uk/sightings-report-a-sighting.asp). Photo ID records of the dorsal fin can further add to the research, and information on how to take a positive ID shot can read here - http://www.sharktrust.org/en/basking_shark_photo-identification.

Ewan

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