On September 11, 2009 and 2011, researchers from the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research Station conducted aerial surveys for basking sharks in the Bay of Fundy to estimate the abundance of basking sharks in this area. Three researchers conducted the surveys, from a small plane (Cesna 337) flying at 1000 feet at 110 knots. Each survey lasted about 5 hours.
The aerial survey followed the same track in 2009 and 2011 and covered 991 km.
We sighted a total of 26 basking sharks during the 2 aerial surveys. Our analysis, which takes into account the proportion of time sharks spend at the surface (and can thus be spotted from a plane) and other factors, gave a population estimate of about 542 sharks in 2009 and 632 sharks in 2011.
Recently, our paper on the results of our aerial surveys, entitled “Population density and abundance of basking sharks Cetorhinus maximus in the lower Bay of Fundy, Canada” was accepted in the journal Endangered Species Research.
It has not yet been published, but you can see our pre-press abstract here: http://www.int-res.com/prepress/n00567.html