Basking shark migration from Ireland to Africa

This video from Ireland is called Monster Munch Basking Shark Project.

From IrishCentral:

Basking sharks leave Irish waters in search of winter sun

Previously hunted off the coast of Ireland, harmless Basking Sharks are studied intently by Irish group

By EMMETT JOHNSTON, IrishCentral Contributing Writer

Published Sunday, December 23, 2012, 7:13 AM

‘Banba’ a female basking shark tagged in July with a satellite transmitter off Malin head, Co. Donegal has just released its transmitter west of the Cape Verde Islands, over 5000km away from where it was originally tagged.

The five meter long female shark was one of five basking sharks tagged as part of the Monster Munch Basking Shark Community Awareness Project run by the Irish Basking Shark Study Group in association with the Inishowen Development Partnership and Queens University Belfast.

The movement by the shark ‘Banba’ into warm tropical waters off West Africa, coupled with similar findings by leading American shark biologist Greg Skomal in the western Atlantic, questions the validity of the established theory that basking sharks inhabit temperate waters only. Previous basking shark tracking studies undertaken in the north east Atlantic have only recorded shark movements within temperate waters.

The majority of tracked sharks have displayed a seasonal onshore – offshore migratory pattern, with movements of one or two hundred miles offshore onto the continental shelf edge during winter and return shifts to coastal waters during summer months. This seasonal pattern allows the sharks to feed year round on copepods, a type of zooplankton, their stable food source. However, the recording of this magnificent journey by a basking shark from Malin head to warmer tropical waters questions many of the fundamental theories marine biologists have regarding the species and its lifecycle.

Basking sharks were once hunted off the coasts of Ireland, but they are now classed as endangered in the North Atlantic. The Irish Basking Shark Study Group have been pioneering research on the iconic marine leviathan which can weigh more than an African elephant and grow to over 11m in length. In recent years the group have had internationally significant findings in DNA sampling, population surveys, tagging and tracking.

The groups’ motivation is to see the shark protected in Irish waters, one of the last western European territorial water bodies where they remain unprotected. Emmett Johnston, a co-founder of the group, spoke briefly about Banba’s journey. “The group are delighted with the finding, but it is a bit premature to be rushing out to change the shark biology books. We are awaiting the pop-off of the remaining three satellite transmitters attached this summer, recovering five complete basking shark tracks will allow us to compare the data and make informed conclusions. Until then there is not much we can say other than this is a highly unusual place to find a species that is presumed to inhabit temperate waters.”

5 thoughts on “Basking shark migration from Ireland to Africa

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