As we mentioned in a previous post, it seems that the basking sharks we see in the Bay of Fundy during the summer head south for the winter. And now it looks like they might be starting to return to our waters.
We just received word that four basking sharks were sighted off the Scotian Shelf (just off Browns Bank) on April 15. These four sharks were actually seen within 35 minutes of each other while the vessel was in transit–so they are different individuals! The basking sharks were sighted in deep water–about 2000m deep.
One of the sharks had its mouth open, so maybe it was feeding at the surface. Right now, the North Atlantic spring bloom is happening – a large increase in phytoplankton abundance that generally occurs in early spring. This incredible phenomenon occurs as a result of increased light and the large amount of nutrients available at the surface after all the vertical mixing of water over the winter (from those winter storms, for example). It’s a very green ocean out there right now! And this means, that zooplankton, such as copepods, have a lot to feast upon and they too, increase in abundance. So, it’s not surprising, that larger animals, such as basking sharks, are returning to higher latitudes to enjoy this big copepod buffet.