The gigantic basking shark and now annual visitor to Inishowen shores has finally arrived on the shores of Malin head.
The sharks which weigh over five tons and can grow to be longer than an CIE Express Bus normally arrive earlier in the year but unseasonal weather conditions described as “atrocious” by the resident shark research team leader Emmett Johnston have resulted in fewer sightings of the sea monsters.
As part of a community awareness initiative entitled ‘Monster Munch’ two satellite tracking tags have been deployed by the research team on sharks named Banba and Iascagáin off Malin head. The team are aiming to deploy three more in the coming weeks along side a number of other tag types which they use to monitor the movement and behaviour of these magnificent docile animals.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ earlier this week Emmett said: “Since ancient times sharks, the apex hunter of the oceans, have been both feared and revered by man. The sight of their dorsal fin breaking the surface immediately brings a shiver down ones spine and an echo of the Jaw’s music. It is this human image of sharks being a top predator and maintaining a killer instinct which has led sharks to become a favourite Asian soup dish.
“It may sound far fetched but Shark fin soup is now the biggest threat to biodiversity in our oceans with over 80% of all shark species critically endangered. The indiscriminate practice of fining or cutting the fins off live sharks while at sea and dumping then back into the ocean has led to an outcry from conservation organisations across the globe. Sharks have now replaced whales and elephants at the top of the worlds wildlife agenda with major political battles being fought on the issue.”
Malin Head is a recognised global hotspot for Basking sharks which are thankfully a harmless and docile creature with no teeth; instead they filter plankton or insects from the water in order to sustain their huge bulk. Many other shark species are fished around our coastline on a catch and release basis.
According to Emmett: “Is it time for the Ireland to provide the same protection in our waters to this magnificent creature as it gets in every other European jurisdiction?
“That is precisely what the Inishowen based Irish Basking Shark Project is working towards.”
To find out more or offer your support go to www.baskingshark.ie