Tagging Basking Sharks

Manx Basking Shark Watch has been fitting basking sharks with satellite tags since 2007.

More than 20 tags have been deployed over the years, and the resulting data has revealed some very intesting information about where the sharks go when they leave Manx waters.

Basking shark in PeelThe Isle of Man is a global hotspot for basking sharks  -- the second largest fish in the world -- and tagging helps us understand more about them.

One intrepid shark, Tracy, travelled across the Atlantic to Canada, but the rest remain almost exclusively in western British waters. They appear to swim south from the Isle of Man till they reach Cornwall, before turning round and heading back north again.

Although useful for broad scale movements, these tags cannot provide the detail required to show the sharks’ fine scale movements and they are also archival, meaning that data is only availalbe after the tag pops off the shark after a programmed number of days.

New generation of tags reveals more about sharks

To learn more about the detailed movements of the sharks when they are in Manx waters, and to follow more closely where they go when they leave, a new generation of tags are now being used. These provide accurate data on the sharks’ position, every time it comes to the surface.

This new technology has the added bonus that the information can be gathered in almost real time and uploaded to a website, so you can follow the progress of the tagged sharks online too:

Sharks tagged in 2015-16 season
Sharks tagged in 2013-14 season

The tagging project, initiated with the support of the Manx Wildlife Trust, is now undertaken by Manx Basking Shark Watch.

You can help -- please report your sightings!

Manx Basking Shark Watch

And it's not just tagged sharks that provide useful information: The team at MBSW is always very keen to hear about any sightings of basking sharks in Manx waters.

If you are lucky enough to spot one (or more!), please report the details via their website: manxbaskingsharkwatch.org.