Sailors cruising in British waters this summer are being asked to report any sightings of a basking shark to help researchers


Sailors are being encouraged to report any basking shark sightings to The Shark Trust this summer.

Between May and October, these endangered fish return to British waters to feed on plankton.

Monitoring, management, and further research into the basking shark population is vital to ensure their survival.

Currently, basking sharks are one of the most heavily protected species in UK and EU waters, and are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Intense fishing for their liver oil. meat and large fins between 1946-1995 caused the basking shark population in the Northeast Atlantic to collapse.

A basking shark moving through the water, its mouth open

It is illegal to harass or disturb basking sharks in UK waters. Credit: Nick Robertson-Brown/The Shark Trust

Although they are no longer targeted, these fish are still caught as bycatch or die after becoming entangled in lost fishing gear.

Basking sharks grow slowly and are late to mature so produce few young, making them vulnerable; it takes a long time for populations to recover.

The managing director of the Shark Trust, Paul Cox said that while targeted and well-funded scientific research was needed to fully understand the status and potential recovery of basking sharks, everyone can play their part by reporting sightings.

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‘Each sighting a from boat user, when added to our database, provides a piece of evidence that can help scientists draw conclusions. We’re really grateful to all our citizen scientists for the part they play in shark conservation and research,’ he said

Basking sharks are extremely vulnerable to disturbance and harassment and water users should always abide by the basking shark code of conduct.

Basking sharks are heavily protected in UK and EU waters. Credit: Nick Robertson-Brown/The Shark Trust

Basking sharks are heavily protected in UK and EU waters. Credit: Nick Robertson-Brown/The Shark Trust

It’s also illegal to intentionally disturb or harass them in UK waters.

Sightings of basking sharks can be recorded here.

If you witness disturbance or harassment of a basking shark, please report it to the National Wildlife Crime Unit immediately.

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