Basking sharks now off West Cork..and Kerry (Update)

29th Apr 2008 Report II: 30/04/08

The latest reports from Kerry observers, Nick Massett and Jill Crosher tell us that basking sharks can now be seen off Slea Head. These are the 1st Kerry basking shark Cetorhinus maximus records of 2008. It is interesting that the county order in which they were reported this year was as follows: Wexford, Waterford, Cork (east, then West) and Kerry. Is this a coincidence or does this reflect a westward movement? Answers on a postcard to IWDG...

Report I: 28/04/08

In the past week 21-28th April IWDG have received a steady stream of basking shark sightings. The latest sightings was of 3 specimens seen off Cape Clear Island, suggesting that they are now likely to be widespread in West Cork.

Interestingly, if you plot all the basking shark sightings reported to date in 2008, they show a strong south coast bias, with all records coming from counties Wexford (offshore), Waterford and Cork. It would be interesting to know how accurately these reports reflect the distribution in Irish waters of this little understood species, which is the world's 2nd largest fish (and shark).

Some people have expressed surprise with such early sightings of this species. Yet, the results of land-based "effort" watches off the south coast in recent years show that they can be observed as early as late March. This is quite consistent with what is known about phyto-plankton blooms during the spring period.

Basking shark, Cork Harbour © Conor Ryan

As always, the IWDG appreciate all basking shark records. Your sighting reports will help support the case for their protection in Irish waters. They should become somewhat easier to observe once the current windy and showery weather settles down!

Pádraig Whooley

Sightings Co-ordinator