28 June 2012

Basking Shark Hotspot - Ireland

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

"Shark season officially started in the Kerry study area during a calm period at the start of April. It made for ideal conditions for fieldwork and allowed us to get a solid start on the season. 25 sharks were tagged over three days, mostly around the Blaskets in County Kerry, but one tag was deployed off of the Cork coast and we have already had our first re-sightings of the season. The team enjoyed sightings of other marine megafauna during our fieldwork too, including Minke Whales, Risso’s Dolphins, Common Dolphins, porpoise and even 2 Humpbacks off the Cork coast. 


It has been somewhat quiet since, with few sightings but the team are ready to go whenever they show themselves! The team is planning to deploy a pop-off archival tag this season in the Kerry study area in order to provide information on past location and depth of the shark. This data is used to monitor the activities of Basking Sharks when not on the surface and will contribute to the conservation of the species through the identification of key habitats and environmental drivers for the species.


It has been quiet in Donegal so far this season with sightings of sharks few and far between. The team here is ready to move as soon as the chance arises and have big plans for the season. To investigate shark movements and predator- prey associations the team plan to deploy numerous different types of tracking tags on the sharks, including five satellite relaying tags.  It is hoped these pioneering Fastloc GPS-enabled tags will relay live positions and record fine scale movements of the sharks. Timed depth recorders will also be deployed this year following on from last year’s successful deployment for the depth charge project.  


The Monster Munch project was in full swing over the last few months. It aims to engage the fishing communities of Inishowen on a personal level and develop a working relationship between local people and the scientific community undertaking research on the Inishowen coast. The project delivered an educational programme promoting the Basking Shark into five coastal community schools on the Inishowen Peninsula which has been hugely successful. 


This blog will be kept updated with the research team’s progress over the season and will hopefully have good news to report".


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

* The Shark Trust Basking Shark Project