Manx Basking shark tag program at risk

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The Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW) tagging project, which has successfully tagged and tracked 18 sharks since 2007, is under threat due to a lack of funding.

The project, which aims to gather data on the movements of the enigmatic ocean-going giants has so far uncovered important and previously unknown behavioural patterns that have helped shed new light onto the lives of the world's second largest fish species.

When the data collected was studied it was found that of the 18 fish tagged, 17 stayed within Manx waters and the Irish and Celtic seas year round, indicating the presence of a local 'shoal'. However the 18th shark, an 8m long mature female, swam all the way across the Atlantic to the coast of Canada, suggesting that sexually mature Basking sharks are potentially global travellers.

Sadly further revelations into the lives of the sharks are now at risk due to the current economic climate. The MBSW, which started in 2004, is run by a small group of volunteers on a 'shoe-string' budget and a lack of funds means that this year's tagging program may not happen unless sponsors come forward to help.

The tags, which are attached to the shark's dorsal fin, record the movements of the fish including depth, before releasing themselves after 226 days. Once on the surface they transmit the data to a satellite, but at about £4,000 per tag the cost is becoming increasingly prohibitive.

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