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Displaying items by tag: basking sharks

Ten to twenty per cent of the world's basking sharks are in Irish waters year-round. Because of this an international consortium of leading scientists and conservation organisations has today called on the Irish Government to provide legal protection for them.

"Ireland needs to do this," according to Dr Emmett Johnston, Founder Member of the Irish Basking Shark Group which has made the call on World Oceans Day. "The scientific community have given their full support to list the basking shark under the Wildlife Act. Now is the right time to protect them and their habitats. Irish coastal waters are one of the few places globally that basking sharks regularly and predictably occur on the surface close to shore.

As Afloat reported earlier, the number of breeding individuals has been estimated at approximately 8,000-10,000 worldwide, most of which are in the northeast Atlantic.

On Tom MacSweeney's Maritime Ireland Radio Show another Founder/Member of the Group, Dr Simon Berrow, who is also CEO of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said that during the Summer months basking sharks also suffer harassment and disturbance from boats, jet skis, divers and snorkelers.

Listen to Dr. Berrow here

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More than 2,000 people have already signed an online petition in support of legal protection for basking sharks in Irish waters.

The appeal was started by Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group to encourage TDs to support The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled last week by Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the bill would make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure, disturb or harass the second-largest fish in the world’s oceans.

While basking sharks are an endangered species, they are currently not afforded the same protections in law as whales, dolphins, porpoise and seals in Irish waters.

Berrow says: "Ireland and our coastal communities have historically benefited from basking shark fisheries and today we have a duty to provide protection for this highly mobile species when they occupy Irish territorial waters."

He adds: "Adding the species to Schedule Five of the Wildlife Act (1976) as amended is the simplest method to provide protection for the species in Irish territorial waters."

Find the petition at MyUplift HERE.

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A Wicklow TD with a background in fisheries science and environmental law has introduced a bill that would afford stronger protections to basking sharks in Irish waters, as TheJournal.ie reports.

The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2021 tabled by Dáil deputy Jennifer Whitmore of the Social Democrats would make it illegal for anyone to intentionally or recklessly injure, disturb or harass the second-largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Experts estimate that as much as one-fifth of the global population of basking sharks may be found in Irish waters, though remarkably little is known about their lives — something researchers from Trinity have set out to discover by tagging a number of them off West Cork.

“We have a deep cultural connection to this animal and it is often a symbol of our indigenous maritime life,” Whitmore told the Dáil on Thursday (13 May).

However, the endangered marine wildlife giants are not a protected species in Ireland like cetaceans (dolphins, porpoise and whales) and seals.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

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Researchers from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences were in West Cork earlier this month to tag some of the many basking sharks that have been frequenting our shores — and learn more about the second largest fish in the world’s oceans.

Funded by the Irish Research Council and Science Foundation Ireland, Assistant Professor Nicholas Payne and PhD candidate Haley Dolton spent a week on the water with West Cork Charters in which they managed to apply tags to four basking sharks.

These electronic tags will accumulate data about the sharks’ behaviour and physiology as they move around the coast feeding on plankton.

The goal, the researchers say, is to learn more about the anatomy and physiology of these gentle giants and hopefully guide conservation efforts for this endangered marine wildlife species.

“Basking sharks are a difficult species to study because they are not very abundant and they only grace our shores for a brief period each year, from April to August, so I am delighted we were able to learn so much about them this past week,” said Dr Payne.

Sadly the first phase of the pair’s work involved dissecting the remains of two basking sharks that washed up on the West Cork coast at the end of April, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

“We would rather not have have had the opportunity to examine the two sharks that died prematurely before we took to the sea, but these sad events did at least help us learn more about them,” Dr Payne explained.

“Basking sharks are an endangered species and at risk of death from fishing bycatch and from getting struck by boats, so the more we know about them — especially their behaviour and physiology — the better chance we have of protecting them.

“The experience we had of observing live sharks in all their glory really emphasises that we should do our best to protect these incredible animals.”

Dolton added: “The amount of data we managed to collect throughout the whole week was phenomenal and beyond what I’d hoped for. We are currently analysing all the results and look forward to sharing our findings with everyone later in the year.”

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The carcass of a second basking shark has washed up on the coast of West Cork just days after the discovery of an unusually fresh specimen 20km away.

According to Cork Beo, the second large fish was found at the weekend near Courtmacsherry and is believed to have been dead for some time.

Another basking shark carcass measuring a whopping seven metres that beached at Inchydoney last week presented a rare opportunity for marine biologists to examine relatively fresh remains.

It’s unknown how the female shark died, but dissection revealed that the marine wildlife giant still had food in its stomach.

“It’s sad of course to see such a big beautiful animal like that, but it’s good to try and get something positive out of it,” Trinity lecturer Dr Nicholas Payne said.

Basking sharks have been spotted in great numbers off West Cork this month, with video of a kayaker surrounded by the second biggest fish in the sea making a splash last week.

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Next Tuesday 13 April the Cork Nature Network hosts a free talk in the impact of microplastics on the marine environment, and specifically on the largest fish in the sea.

During this talk, Dr Alina Wieczorek will be presenting her research — being conducted both in Ireland and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean — on microplastic interactions with whale sharks and basking sharks.

She will also share some first insights into how researchers can use scientific findings to inform society and stakeholders to collaboratively find solutions to address environmental issues such as plastic pollution.

Online attendance for ‘Microplastics a Macro-Disaster: A threat to the largest fish of our seas?’ at 7pm next Tuesday 13 April is free, and registration is open now at Eventbrite.

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Remarkable video of basking sharks engaging in what’s believed to be courtship behaviour has been captured by drone off Co Clare.

As RTÉ News reports, members of the Irish Basking Shark Group (IBSG) shot the footage of nine sharks swimming in a circle around their research boat last month.

Basking sharks, the world’s second largest fish species, are typically seen on the surface of Irish inshore waters in the spring, and rarely this late in the year.

“But we realised immediately that they were not feeding,” said Dr Simon Berrow, co-founder of the IBSG and chief executive of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG).

“This was something else, something special.”

The research team also took the opportunity to collect DNA samples from the massive marine wildlife, which which may reveal if they are genetically distinct from those big fish seen in the same waters earlier in the year.

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How many basking sharks have reclaimed the waters off the South and West Coasts? “We don’t really know” is the honest answer from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.

But after a video of surfers in a close encounter with a school of the marine wildlife giants went viral last week, it’s become clear that the numbers — potentially into the thousands — are remarkable, if not unusual.

Getting a complete picture, however, “would require something like an aerial survey”, says IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

In the meantime, their close proximity to the shore to feed on zooplankton presents “a fantastic opportunity for the members of the public to observe and record their observations to the IWDG, and thus make a real contribution to marine conservation”.

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A surfing quartet got up close with a school of basking sharks off Co Clare at the weekend, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The surfers had brought a GoPro camera to video their wave-riding exploits, which came in handy to capture their encounter with as many as 20 of the giant marine wildlife on Saturday afternoon (2 May).

“They were quite slow and peaceful, and they just came towards us and cruised past,” says Tom Gillespie, one of the four and who recorded the footage.

“We just tried to make sure we didn’t look like plankton.”

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) suggests that sightings of basking sharks in recent weeks indicate there could be “hundreds of animals” in a hotspot between Clare and the Aran Islands.

But while such large groupings are unusual, they are not unprecedented, according to the IWDG’s sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.

“As we are still less than mid-way through the shark season, it’s a little premature to be calling this a record year for sharks,” he said. “Better to wait till the end of the season when we can review all the sightings data and reflect on how good a season this has been the planet’s second biggest fish.”

Despite their fearsome size, basking sharks feed only on plankton and pose no threat to humans.

But that should not serve as any encouragement to take a dip while as social distancing measures remain in place.

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One of the world’s largest sharks had become a regular visitor to an Achill Island beach, as Independent.ie reports.

Local tourist officials have recorded almost daily sightings of the 20-plus-foot basking shark in the waters of Keem Bay over the last month.

And has word of got out, visitor numbers on the Co Mayo island are growing among those hoping to get a glimpse of the gargantuan fish.

The second biggest fish in the seas behind the whale shark — and the largest in the North Atlantic — basking sharks are regulars in Irish waters.

Indeed, number of the gentle marine wildlife giants have reached such figures that experts have referred to the waters off the West Coast in the summer months as a ‘shark ark’.

Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

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The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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