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Basking Fest

Soaring summer temperatures and calm sea conditions have resulted in the Hundreds of Basking Sharks gathering at Malin head. Shark researchers based on Inishowen have managed to deploy satellite tracking tags, visual I.D. placards and video cameras on the sharks in recent days.

Sharks by the dozen are being reported by members of the public to the team of scientists who are funded by the Inishowen Development Partnership and Queens University Belfast. They have been on the water round the clock since the start of this heat wave and the deployment of a HD video Camera on the sharks fin is a first in the world.

Spokesman’s for the research team Emmett Johnston stated that he hadn’t seen sharks in such good numbers since 2010 and the good weather brought the sharks to the surface for longer periods and created suitable conditions for large aggregations to form. In conditions normally reserved for the Mediterranean afternoon land breezes have formed during most recent afternoons and this has blown the plankton on the surface into the many small bays and inlets on the north coast. The sharks are gathering in these bays to feed on the dense clouds of plankton latterly yards from the shore line.

E. Johnston makes the most of the calm evenings as he prepares to tag a basking shark off the coast of Malin Head © D. Griffen 2013

As the good weather is set to continue the team will be continuing their search for answers to the most basic of lifecycle questions that remain unknown concerning these magnificent creatures. Where do they come from and go to during the different seasons, how many are there and is the population increasing or decreasing?

If you see a shark please remember to report it online or via text.

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