The last of 20 basking sharks off the Scottish coast has been tagged in an effort to find out more about the creatures.
Scientists from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the University of Exeter are now tracking the animals as part of a project to find out more about their life cycle.
The results of the project will help inform decision making about marine protected areas and the future management of Scotland’s marine environment.
The tags, which allow the public to track the movements of eight of the sharks online, show that in the past three or four weeks, many have stayed around the Inner Hebrides where they were tagged, while one has made its way south east to Colonsay and Jura and two have headed west to the open sea beyond the Outer Hebrides.
The tracking website has already proved popular with the public, with 42,000 hits since it went live on July 15.
SNH's Dr Suzanne Henderson, who is managing the basking shark tagging project, said: “It’s fascinating to see where the sharks have been going since they were tagged. We’re keen to learn more about the behaviour of the sharks during the summer months, when they can be seen at the surface in large numbers around the islands of Coll, Tiree, Canna and Hyskeir. We’re particularly intrigued to see where they go during the winter.
“The information gathered from this research will help us better understand how basking sharks use the seas around Scotland and help us advise Scottish Ministers on whether this is an appropriate location for a marine protected area. It will also help government and others plan for the future use of our seas, balancing environmental concerns with industry and recreation.”
After their work is done, the tags will detach from the sharks after several months and float to the surface. The research team are appealing to anyone who finds a tag around the shores of the UK to get in touch.
Dr Matthew Witt of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute said: “If the tags are retrieved then we can gather much more detailed data on the movements of the sharks. So if you find one washed up along the coast, please pick it up and contact the SNH office in Oban on 0300 244 9360, or email.
“There is a reward available for each tag returned as the data they contain is valuable to the project.”
More About Strange Scotland
- Cast of notorious William Burke's brain among curiosities on display
- Greyfriars Bobby gets nose job to restore colour rubbed away 'for luck'
- Antibodies found in shark blood could help tackle breast cancer
- Four candles thief evokes classic sketch in court appearance
- Strange Scotland: Some of this week's more unusual stories
- Shetland bookie shop worker thought raid was Up Helly Aa stunt
- Seaweed forces closure of reactors at Torness nuclear power station