The week, beginning the 18th of August, has seen a significant increase in basking shark sightings reports around the north coast of Ireland. Single animals and larger aggregations of 5-6 animals have been encountered on the surface at the mouths of Lough Foyle and Lough Swilly. Expectant tourists and local wildlife watchers, who have grown accustomed to the annual influx of hundreds of sharks in recent years, have been waiting patiently along the north coast for this dramatic influx of marine megafauna to our shores.
Scotland has seen large numbers of sharks over the past month with good numbers further north than in previous years. Is this a push of animals north? Or is it a reflection of the prevailing weather conditions during the summer of 2014? Interestingly, during early summer weather conditions were perfect and plankton density was good but relatively few sharks were encountered north of Galway /Mayo, while the prevailing weather conditions on the north coast are now northerly winds in the Force 5-6 category.
Is shark presence on the north coast independent of weather conditions? This is the type of question that the Irish Basking Shark Study Group are investigating over the long term. Long term data sets are needed in order to establish patterns (if there are any!) and/or links between presence and absence of the sharks. Ironically, the years when there are fewer sharks encountered, such as 2014 and 2011, may hold the clue to deciphering the elusive shark movements.
Better late than never, please remember to log your sighting through the ‘Report a Sighting’ link.