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Washout, Windout

2015 has seen unprecedented levels of rain and wind hitting the west coast of Ireland. Stable calm and sunny conditions, which often result in higher basking shark encounters, have not been seen since mid-April.

We've observed fewer sightings, but does this mean the sharks have gone elsewhere? What's more likely is that there are fewer people on the water, and sharks are also more difficult to be seen in choppy conditions. Furthermore, sharks themselves appear to prefer the top layer of the water during calm sunny weather.

Basking shark of Malin head with Tag attached © E. Johnston

It's possible that the sharks are, in fact, now in Irish coastal waters, but choose to feed below the surface. It's an interesting concept to imagine: a large percentage of the Atlantic’s biggest fish are swimming around our shores right now, but nobody is able to track them or even see them.

What does this mean for July and August? The group think that once weather conditions stabilise in early July and the productive marine frontal systems off Kerry and Malin Head start to sharpen up (i.e. temperature differences are more defined) the sharks will be seen in plentiful numbers. Water temperatures are still down on the norm for this time of year and, as a result, food or plankton production may be affected on these frontal systems.

So, keep your eyes peeled and keep a watch on our Facebook page for quick updates on shark encounters around the coast.

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