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Scientists find hottest waters for basking sharks
By Graham Tibbetts
(Filed: 29/08/2003)


Four "hot spots" around Britain's coastline where the world's second-largest fish, the basking shark, is most likely to be seen were identified by marine conservationists yesterday.

A survey carried out over 15 years found that south-west England, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Arran, and Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland were the most popular sites for the shark, which can reach up to 36ft in length. The Basking Shark Watch project, conducted by the Marine Conservation Society, publicly records for the first time the movements around Britain of this spectacular but harmless giant, second only in size to the whale shark.

The information could be used in future campaigns to further safeguard the species.

Between 1987 and 2001, the Marine Conservation Society received 4,055 reports of about 17,000 sharks from divers, fishermen, sailors and coastal walkers who watched the creatures feeding and even leaping above the water.

The greatest number of sightings was off the coasts of Cornwall, Devon and the Channel Islands, with 11,575 sharks seen during the 15-year period. This includes huge shoals of up to 500 sharks, with some as long as 26ft. Observers also saw 2,977 near the Isle of Man, 1,426 around Scotland, 61 in Northern Ireland and 27 off Wales.

"Basking Shark Watch has significantly increased our limited knowledge of these magnificent animals while they are in UK waters," said Sam Fanshawe, the MCS's director of conservation.

"These areas may provide key habitat for this species and could be considered for protection."

The sharks are generally first seen each year from early April off South-West England, where numbers are at their highest in June. Sightings then peak around the Isle of Man in July and off the west coast of Scotland in August, suggesting possible migration from south to north.
 

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A group/school/pod(?) of 7 of them were seen this time last year off Coll and Tiree. Guess where we're going next week? I'll be looking out for them.


Peter
 

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yet another thing to look forward to next weekend! Peter , you realise you have again raised everyones anticipation of how good your mull trip is going to be. Now how big a bar bQ do we need to roast a whole shark??? or were we just sticking to scallops?
 

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I know Jules. I should have just told everyone it'll be a sh*t weekend, but give me your money anyway, and everything else would be a bonus.
I'm getting the spit-roast organised for the shark. You're on turning duty. Did I not tell you that? Sorry! Still, cooking is your womanly duty. As are the dishes and tidying up.  
The lads are only Hunter-Gatherers

Peter
 

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Sorry to have hijacked the thread a bit Bren. Anyway, this is where to go and what to do if you see anything. It's got recent sightings and a handy ID chart.


Sea Watch Foundation

Keep those eyes peeled
Peter
 
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