Foyle II a 6-8m shark successfully equipped with a satellite transmitter or ‘Spot’ tag in Irish waters this summer is heading south for the canaries Islands. This wildlife computers SPOT tag was deployed off Malin head, Donegal on the 12thof July as part of the ‘Shark Spotting’ project sponsored by the Loughs Agency, Queens University Belfast and a private donor.
During the month of May two spot tags were deployed using a new method of fin mount clamps, but to date no data has been recovered from these deployments. In contrast Foyle II is performing admirably since its deployment in July using the traditional tether method. The tag was also provided with a custom designed buoyancy aid to improve surface stability, duration and increase the frequency of satellite links.
Spot tags provide location information only and were first used on basking sharks in 2012 by a University of Exeter for a Scottish Natural Heritage programme investigating shark usage of specific island sites on the west coast of Scotland. In 2013 The Irish Basking Shark Study Group, Manx Basking Shark Watch and the University of Exeter group all deployed a number of Spot tags in an effort to finally establish some consistency of movement by the sharks during summer and winter months. Movements thus far are proving to be similarly confusing to scientists as some sharks stay in northern waters and others move south such as Foyle II.
In an ideal scenario the Foyle II tag could stay on the shark for up to one year but the marine environment is a harsh place and the research team who deployed the tag expect it to either come off the shark or run out of battery power much sooner than that.
You can follow further progress of Foyle II through our Shark Spotting section of the website, under Surveys.