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Shark Takes A Bite Out Of Scottish Killer Whale

1st February 2015
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Shark Takes A Bite Out Of Scottish Killer Whale

#MarineWildlife - A conspicuous chunk missing from the tail fluke of a killer whale resident in Scottish waters is evidence of an altercation with a shark, as BBC News reports.

The orca, known as John Doe, is one of the familiar pod of killer whales that's commonly seen off the west of Scotland but has also been spotted in Donegal and off the east Scottish coast near Aberdeen.

Marine scientists have long been interested in the group because of its genetic distinctness from other killer whales in the north Atlantic – with studies showing they bear closer relation to orcas found in Antarctic waters.

And this latest discovery is troubling in light of the group's already precarious status, with no calves recorded among them since experts began to study them two decades ago.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) said it could not "realistically speculate" on what species of shark may have been to blame for the bite.

But one it most certainly isn't is the plankton-hungry basking shark, a species that's seen a drastic fall in numbers locally over the past year, according to the Irish Examiner.

Sightings of the ocean's second largest fish – after the similarly harmless whale shark – have dwindled by a third on 2013 figures, which the HWDT says is part of a trend.

However, experts have moved to quell any concerns over the health of the marine species, as they may simply have moved to offshore waters – or below the surface – in search of greater supplies of their favourite foodstuff.

Basking sharks may be seen less often, but there's another shark species in the oceans that even the experts know very little about – and one of them was just landed in the Philippines.

The Washington Post has more on the 'mysterious' megamouth shark, a prehistoric looking beast that was only discovered by science in 1976 and has been sighted just 64 times since then.

Scientists still have no idea of the size of their population or in what oceans they're concentrated, and this find may reveal little more - but it might tell us something new about their plankton-based diet and their unique physiology.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!

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