REFLECTIONS ON A RARE BASKING SHARK ENCOUNTER
Dr. Simon Berrow narrates his experience with basking sharks in the fall off West Clare. The species is often seen feeding in this area in the spring - but the seasonal timing of this experience was not the only unusual component...
© Irish Basking Shark Group
2010 - present | Ongoing
The first basking shark tagged in Ireland was off of west Kerry in April 2008, with a coloured number tag. Since then, we have deployed over 100 coloured tags and two satellite tags in this region. The main focus of the research around the hugely productive waters of the Blasket Islands (a basking shark hotspot) is tagging sharks and slime sampling for DNA work. Genetically, the latter method has shown that sharks in west Kerry are a discrete population compared to sharks sampled elsewhere in Ireland and the United Kingdom. However, those sampled later in the year are more similar to these other populations than those sampled in early months. Such population structure is not unusual, but had not yet been reported in basking sharks prior to this project.
Starting during the summer months of 2010, land-based effort watches are taking place from headlands as well as boat-based surveys in County Kerry. During boat surveys, plankton samples will be taken to determine plankton diversity and abundance and the relationship of this prey field with presence of basking sharks.
Assess spatial and temporal distribution of basking sharks in the region
Assess plankton abundance and association with basking sharks
Gain experience and training in survey techniques & equipment
Raise awareness of basking sharks in Irish coastal waters
Deploy visual tags for mark re-capture studies
Take slime samples for genetic studies
Take good quality fin photos for Photo-ID database