27 June 2011

Basking Shark Hotspot - Isle of Man

Basking Shark © Jane Young/Manx Basking Shark Watch. 
Niki Clear, 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.
Basking Shark © Niki Clear.
"On Saturday the 11th there were reports of a dead Risso’s dolphin drifting meters from shore off Niarbyl on the west coast of the Isle of Man. When it finally washed ashore in a small cove in the cliffs, it was discovered to in fact be a 7m male Basking Shark! It was badly decomposed, and smelled pretty horrendous to be frank but this did not stop members of DAFF, Manx Basking Sharks Watch, Manx Whale and Dolphin Watch and the Dolphineers (volunteers for MBSW and MWDW) to get stuck into the dissection of this impressive animal. Samples of flesh, skin, teeth, gill rakers, claspers, the entire dorsal fin, and internal organs were collected to be sent away for analysis. There was no obvious cause of death, but a full stomach suggests that this shark was feeding up to the point of death. It may take several months but hopefully the samples collected will shed some light into the life and death of this wonderful but unfortunate basker.  

As for the live sharks here in Manx waters there has been a definite lull in the number of sightings over the last few weeks with only 19 sightings from the 11th to the 21st. But thankfully, on the 22nd they came back with a bang! 93 sightings reported in 3 days mostly along the coast around Peel (on the west coast). On the 23rd, during a chance outing on the tour boat ‘Pegasus’, an amazing 17 sharks were counted at the surface along a 3km stretch north of Peel in the space of an hour. But still the weather is stopping us from getting out on the MBSW boat and getting our shark encounters. Happy Jack has been out 3 days now in the last 2 weeks with no shark sightings, at least porpoise and Minke Whales are keeping us entertained. Fingers crossed for some good sharking weather for tomorrow..."