Are Basking Sharks Long-Distance Swimmers?

Written by on January 8, 2013 in Marine Life, Sharks
Basking shark.

Basking shark. Photo Credit: NOAA.

Data from a satellite transmitter has shown that a basking shark, previously thought to stay in temperate waters, made a 3,000 mile journey down south.

The shark was named Banba when she was tagged off the coast of Ireland near Malin Head in July 2012. Her satellite transmitter popped off five months and 3,000 miles later west of the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa.

Banba was tagged along with five other basking sharks as part of the Basking Shark Community Education Project. Most tagged sharks only travel a couple hundred miles off shore so the information from Banba’s tag came as a surprise.

“Up until now there have been lots of different theories put forward about the sharks and one was that they hibernated over the winter because there wasn’t enough food in the waters around the north Atlantic,” said Dr. Simon Berrow, a co-founder of the study group.

“Other people said they went offshore and they have been tracked offshore in the winter,” he continued. “But we have been theorizing that they head further south to where the food is, like the larger whales from this area.”Banba’s journey raised more questions than it answered. In addition to determining if basking sharks really do migrate to warmer waters in the winter, researchers will try to find out what kind of food the sharks’ eat once there.

You can see Banba in the following video from the Basking Shark Project:

To learn more:

Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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