Tracking tagged basking sharks online

A total of 20 basking sharks have been tagged off the coast of Scotland in an attempt to learn more about this huge, poorly understood shark.

790px-Basking_SharkScientists from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the University of Exeter are now tracking the animals as part of a project to find out more about their life cycle.

The results of the project will help inform decision making about marine protected areas and the future management of Scotland’s marine environment.

The tags, which allow the public to track the movements of eight of the sharks online in close to real-time, show that in the past three or four weeks, many have stayed around the Inner Hebrides where they were tagged, while one has made its way south east to Colonsay and Jura and two have headed west to the open sea beyond the Outer Hebrides. Another shark has moved south towards Ireland. The maps can be viewed by clicking the following link – Basking Shark Tracking Project.

SNH’s Dr Suzanne Henderson, who is managing the basking shark tagging project, said: “It’s fascinating to see where the sharks have been going since they were tagged. We’re keen to learn more about the behaviour of the sharks during the summer months, when they can be seen at the surface in large numbers around the islands of Coll, Tiree, Canna and Hyskeir. We’re particularly intrigued to see where they go during the winter.

“The information gathered from this research will help us better understand how basking sharks use the seas around Scotland and help us advise Scottish Ministers on whether this is an appropriate location for a marine protected area. It will also help government and others plan for the future use of our seas, balancing environmental concerns with industry and recreation.”

After their work is done, the tags will detach from the sharks after several months and float to the surface. The research team are appealing to anyone who finds a tag around the shores of the UK to get in touch, a poster showing what Basking Shark tags look like and with all relevent details can be found here – http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A1366058.pdf

Dr Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute said: “If the tags are retrieved then we can gather much more detailed data on the movements of the sharks. So if you find one washed up along the coast, please pick it up and contact the SNH office in Oban on 0300 244 9360, or email baskingsharks@snh.gov.uk.

“There is a reward available for each tag returned as the data they contain is valuable to the project.”

Read the full article here.

Category: International, Shark Bites

Comments are closed.