The Inishowen based Basking Shark Project has confirmed that the biggest fish in the ocean has returned to our coastal waters in huge numbers this year. Early reports from fishermen and the shark research teams indicates that the gigantic shark, which can grow up to 10m in length, can now to be seen feeding off the headlands and islands around the North west coast.
The team of shark researchers will be out on the water again this year studying one of Irelands most elusive marine species. Northerly winds over the past number of weeks have meant sea conditions have not been favourable for surveying but they are determined to investigate the shark's behaviour regardless. Emmett Johnston who co-ordinates the project reported sighting over 20 sharks off Malin Head on the 17th of May and he believes the weather has turned for the better.
The 2010 season is the third year for the Inishowen team and as usual they will be conducting standard transect surveys through out the north west coastal area. They have also engaged in a number of new collaborative relationships with Queens University and GMIT for the development of prototype depth and satellite tags. The tags will be deployed on the sharks with the intention of discovering the shark's habits when underwater and out of view. The team will also be working on the Heritage council funded genetic sampling initiative and with a BBC television crew following Monty Halls who has taken an interest in the project and wants to feature it on his show.
We are appealing to everyone who sees a shark to report it and help us concentrate our efforts on the water. Emmett Johnston said "We can't be everywhere at once and last year fishermen and beach goers where just fantastic with their reports, it saves us a lot of petrol if we know where to go in the boat. It also gives us a great idea on how many sharks are out there at any one time".
If you see a Basking Shark please report it on our 'report a sightings section' or phone or text Emmett anytime on 0872867055.