September 30, 2013 at 11:34 pm #526MikeKeymaster
By Chris Court, PA News
Six basking sharks have been found dead around the Cornish coast in
the last three weeks – the biggest death toll since a “sharkwatch”
project began 17 years ago, it emerged today.
The Marine Conservation Society said the number of deaths – all but
one a mystery – was highly unusual and very worrying.
And it appealed to coast walkers and sea users to look out for
“The sooner we get information, the sooner we can get someone down
there to have a look and establish the cause of death,” said MCS
biodiversity projects officer Joana Doyle.
The “vulnerable” protected creatures, which can grow up to 11 metres
long, are the biggest fish to be found in UK waters.
The latest body, found two days ago at Perranporth, north Cornwall,
was 6.1 metres long – the biggest of all the strandings.
Ms Doyle said the cause of death had not yet been established.
There were marks on a fin which implied it had been caught in a net,
but it could not be determined whether this was before or after death.
Five of the deaths were in one week, which was “highly unusual and
very worrying”, said Ms Doyle.
One of the creatures had drowned after becoming entangled in mooring
ropes, but the deaths of the others remained a mystery.
Collisions with vessels were a possibility as the sharks cruise
slowly when eating.
Since the MCS Basking Shark Watch Project began in 1987 – when the
public were first asked to report encounters – there have been only
61 reported deaths.
The project had never encountered so many deaths in a single week.
Bodies have been reported at Gerran Bay, Coverack, Roseland Bay, the
Fal Estuary and Perranporth.
The seas around Devon and Cornwall are a “hotspot” for basking
sharks – the second biggest fish in the world.
In 1998 a school of 500 of the creatures, which can weigh up to seven
tonnes, was spotted off The Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.
In May this year there were 116 sightings of the harmless, plankton-
eating sharks off Cornwall.
The forum ‘Strange Animal Deaths’ is closed to new topics and replies.