It’s been a busy week on the water for researchers at the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station (GMWSRS). In three days, we sighted 36 basking sharks! Below is a map of where we spotted the basking sharks on August 19 (shown in green), August 20 (shown in pink) and August 22 (shown in yellow). Many of our sightings were in the basin, where right whales are also found. This isn’t surprising, given both basking sharks and right whales feed on copepods!
As part of the basking shark research program at the GMWSRS, we are deploying short-term and long-term tags on basking sharks. The short-term tags are time-depth recorders (TDRs) and they are currently programmed to stay on the shark for 5 days. During this time, they’ll record the temperature and depth of where the shark is spending its time. One of our goals for the TDRs is to find out how much time basking sharks spend at the surface in the Bay of Fundy. This is important information to evaluate the risk to ship strikes.
The long-term tags we are deploying are satellite tags. They’ll stay on until May. From these tags, we can learn about basking shark migration. Where do they go when they leave the Bay? When do they return?
We successfully deployed 2 TDRs on August 19 and retrieved both of them 5 days later. Yesterday, another TDR was deployed. We also deployed 4 satellite tags (3 on August 19, 1 on August 20). We have 3 more satellite tags to deploy this year.
We’ve also taken lots of photos of the basking sharks we’ve seen this week and we’re still sorting through them. I’ll write more on that in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!