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© Alexandra McInturf


The Irish Basking Shark Group (IBSG) and its regional subgroups (such as the Inishowen Basking Shark Study Group (IBSSG)are an amalgamation of conservation scientists based on the island of Ireland. Our team is international, comprised of researchers, citizen scientists, and educators in Ireland, the UK, and the United States. Our aim is to educate the public and policymakers on the science, biology, and conservation of the basking shark in Irish waters. We strive to promote responsible and sustainable research, and encourage better understanding and monitoring of this species both in Ireland and on a global scale. To do so, our research projects actively focus on contributing to existing knowledge on basking sharks, and we simultaneously work to promote the development of partnerships with relevant organisations worldwide. We also actively advocate for science-informed protection for basking sharks in Ireland and use community support to further conservation goals on a national scale.


We are an organisation that facilitates and connects individuals and groups to achieve conservation success for basking sharks. We combine community engagement, advocacy, and research to advance science-based conservation goals for basking sharks in Ireland.

We strive to achieve our aim through:

| EDUCATION: Communicate Irish shark knowledge from the local to the international stage.

ADVOCACY: Collaborate with researchers, policymakers, and the public to advocate for the needs of basking sharks in Ireland.

RESEARCH: Work with international researchers to increase knowledge of basking sharks and their conservation needs in Ireland.

Emmett Johnston, PhD



Divisional Ecologist, National Parks and Wildlife Service;

External Researcher, Queen's University Belfast

Emmett Johnston co-founded the IBSG in 2009 and is involved in all facets of the groups activities, including: conservation policy, research, education, and community liaison. His research is currently focused on the movement, behavior and connectivity of basking sharks in the North Atlantic. He is proponent of integrated coastal zone management and the ecosystem approach to the development of applied techniques for the conservation of vulnerable species and habitats. 

Dr Simon Berrow.jpg
Simon Berrow, PhD



Lecturer, GMIT;

CEO Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG)

It took Simon 15 years to tag his first basking shark; off West Kerry in 2008. Since then he has tagged over 400 and pioneered the technique of obtaining DNA from basking shark mucus. He lectures on the Applied Freshwater and Marine Degree at GMIT and is CEO of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, which validates all basking shark sighting records.

Alexandra McInturf, PhD



Postdoctoral Fellow, Oregon State University

Alex McInturf is a postdoctoral fellow in the Big Fish Lab at Oregon State University. She is also a visiting researcher at Queen's University Belfast and a researcher on the SeaMonitor Project. She examines the link between behavior, movement, and conservation in marine apex predators using biotelemetry and biologging. 

Donal Griffin, PhD


Policy Officer, Fair Seas Ireland

Chelsea Gray, MSc 


Science Communicator

PhD candidate, George Mason University

Natasha Phillips, PhD

Scientific advisor

Marine Biologist and Documentary Filmmaker, Swimming Head Productions

Donal is a marine biologist who has worked with the IBSG since 2010, and carried out research on the diving behaviour of basking shark in Irish coastal waters. Donal has a keen interest in environmental policy making, and currently works as policy officer with Fair Seas Ireland.

Chelsea Gray’s current research is interdisciplinary, incorporating individual-based modeling, social science research, and policy development to advance basking shark conservation goals. Her previous research includes public perceptions of basking sharks and basking shark tourism in Ireland. Chelsea is also dedicated to scientific outreach, with experience in education, writing, and video editing.

Natasha Phillips is a marine biologist with a PhD on the ecology of oceanic fishes and has previously been the telemetry & biologging lead on basking shark research projects in UK & Irish waters. She now focuses on creating science and wildlife stories as an independent documentary filmmaker, with her award-winning feature film on basking sharks being selected for three international film festivals.


Many IBSG team members have been critical to our success. They include education specialists, environmental managers, and marine biologists:

Rosemary McCloskey

Jenny Bortoluzzi

Paul Mayo

Lucy Hunt

Heather Vance

Paul Mensink

Danny McFadden

Karl King

Pádraig Whooley

And many others. If you are interested in collaborating with us, please reach out

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