Shark Trust asks divers for assistance during Citizen Science Month – Scuba Diver Mag

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Whether you are stuck for ideas of what to do with the kids, or are off on the dive trip of your dreams, you can get involved in Citizen Science Month and help the Shark Trust by providing vital data about sharks and rays both close to home and further afield.

In addition to reporting the sharks and rays you see on your dives and the eggcases you find on the beach, the Shark Trust is looking for some specific data from divers who are asked to report any oceanic whitetip and basking sharks they see.

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Oceanic whitetip shark

Oceanic whitetip sharks

The Shark Trust is looking specifically for oceanic whitetip shark sightings over the coming weeks and months. So, if you are diving anywhere in the world, please report your sightings via the website or app (search for The Shark Trust in your app store).

Known for their incredibly long dorsal and pectoral fins, this species was once the most-abundant oceanic-pelagic species of shark on the planet.

An inquisitive species, they were easy prey for fisheries. Combined with their low reproductive rate, they were inevitably at high risk of population depletion. And declines of up to 99% have been reported in certain sea areas. They are listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Redlist (2019).

Conservation efforts to discourage further declines include listing on CITES Appendix II and CMS Appendix I. They’re also the only species prohibited from take by all the Tuna RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations). However, these measures do not mean that oceanic whitetips are not still caught – whether targeted or as bycatch – in some parts of the world. With populations declining at such a high rate, effective implementation of management measures is essential to ensure that the species can recover.

If you are lucky enough to get an image of an oceanic whitetip and you record your sighting on the Shark Trust app or website, you can win! All images submitted with sightings, that also give consent to use in conservation messaging, will be in with a chance to win an Oceanic Whitetip T-shirt and mug. The competition will run until the end of Shark Month in July – so keep those sightings (and images) coming in.

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Basking shark

Basking sharks

Basking shark season is upon us, and the Shark Trust is asking everyone to keep an eye out for these majestic giants over the summer months. If you see any, you can record your sighting to the Basking Shark Sightings database.

Each year, these mighty fish return to British waters to feed on plankton. You may see one, (or a few if you’re really lucky) from around April-October. They can be seen feeding at the surface of the water, where they look like they’re basking in the sun. Thus, their name!

Sighting hotspots around the British Isles include southwest England, the Isle of Man, north coast of Ireland, and western Scotland. The Sea of the Hebrides is the most-prolific sightings area in Scotland, but they have been spotted all around the coast and have even ventured into some of the sea lochs.

The Shark Trust has received thousands of sightings since the Basking Shark Project began, but more data is needed to truly understand what is going on with population numbers and distribution. You can help by recording your sightings this summer.

Great Eggcase Hunt

Take part in the Great Eggcase Hunt and get involved with a big citizen science project that helps shark, ray and skate conservation. And it’s an enjoyable activity for all the family.

The Shark Trust also want snorkellers and divers to record their underwater eggcase findings. Underwater records help pinpoint exactly where sharks and skates are laying their eggs and can help link to beach records. Learning the depth and substrate that they lay on also helps better understand the species.

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