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BASKING SHARKS

Cetorhinus maximus

B.Jamieson©

The Marine Conservation Society gathers sightings of basking sharks from the general public in order to see differences in shark distribution between UK regions. The database has been gathering sightings since 1987 and allows us to see annual and seasonal changes in shark sightings at key UK locations. For example, we have noticed a trend for sightings to be large in the southwest in May, then large in the middle of the Irish Sea around the Isle of Man in June/July, and then peaking in Scotland in August. This pattern is likely to be linked to the timing of the annual bloom of plankton in these different regions - the basking sharks preferred food.

B.Jamieson©

14th February, 2004

Colin Druce reports an estimated 70 basking shark off the Hurd Deep, 3-4 miles northwest of Les Casquets lighthouse.  The sharks were all 23-30 feet in length and he describes the behaviour as "they were drifting in circles/playing with each other".  Time 1500hrs.  Observed for 15 minutes but could have stayed longer.  the sharks were all around as far as he could see and some came under the boat and alongside according to Mr Druce.  This is an exceptional sighting.  Very little is known about Basking Shark movements at this time of the year.  Could this be mating behaviour?

Reporter: Colin Druce

B.Jamieson©

The recent sighting in February 2004 of so many sharks off the Hurd Deep is indeed interesting, as we rarely receive reports of large schools of sharks in winter months at the surface. We have also seen an increase in sightings in Scottish waters over the last two years, which may be an indication of an increase in the population visiting northern waters as a result of climate change. We hope to receive your sightings - log on to www.mcsuk.org and follow the links to the basking shark pages to receive further information about our project, basking sharks, and maps of where they can be seen during the Spring and Summer seasons. There is also an online reporting facility at this address, so please visit our site if you have spotted a basking shark.

Dr. Jean-Luc Solandt

Biodiversity Policy Officer

Marine Conservation Society

Wolf Business Park

Alton Road

Ross on Wye HR9 5NB

UK

Tel: 01989 561 594

Fax: 01989 567 815

www.mcsuk.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sue Daly

 

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