Vote here for the shark tagging project shortlisted for Best Conservation Project.

Basking shark tagging nominated for Best Conservation Project – four days left to vote

A shark tagging project run by the University of Exeter and Scottish Natural Heritage has been shortlisted for Best Conservation Project in the Countryfile Magazine awards. Voting closes on 30 September 2013.

Cast your vote here: http://www.countryfile.com/webform/countryfile-magazine-awards-2013-voting-form

The tagging project, which began in July 2012, aims to uncover some of the mysteries of the UK’s largest species of fish. The project focuses on the life cycle of the large numbers of sharks that gather around the islands of Coll, Tiree and Canna every summer.

Earlier this summer scientists from the University of Exeter and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) headed out to the Inner Hebrides again to tag another 27 of the giant sharks with satellite tracking tags. The tags, which let the public follow the movements of a number of the sharks online, will collect data that will give the team an insight into their behaviour during the summer months.

Dr Matthew Witt from the University of Exeter added: “Working with SNH is an exciting opportunity - it allows us to unite our unique capabilities to help improve knowledge on the life history of basking sharks, with the long term aim of delivering a sustainable future in our increasingly busy coastal seas.”

Some of the 20 sharks tagged last year stayed in the area between 5 and 57 days before the tags detached, the sharks moved deeper or they swam south. Depth data collected so far has shown that sharks mainly occupy the top 250m of the water column, although two sharks were recorded down at 1000m, off the edge of the continental shelf. 

Results from the tagging project will help the Scottish Government decide whether a Marine Protected Area should be put in place to safeguard the sharks and help balance environmental interests with industry and recreation. 

SNH and UoE are asking anyone who finds a tag around the shores of the UK to get in touch. The tags are silver/grey, torpedo or oval shaped, 15 to 18 cm in length with a small antenna and may still have a plastic tether attached. If found please pick up and contact the SNH office in Oban on 0300 244 9360, or email baskingsharks@snh.gov.uk. There is a reward available for each tag returned.

To track the basking sharks online after they are tagged, go to http://www.wildlifetracking.org/index.shtml?project_id=839&dyn=1375174097

 

Date: 27 September 2013

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