Underwater Sneak Peek

Posted by on Jan 24, 2013 in Sighting Updates | 2 Comments

It has been far too long since our last update. We’ve been very busy working up the results of our basking shark photo ID catalogue and there is not much shark action happening in the Bay of Fundy this time of year. 

Today, I thought I’d share a link to an underwater video of a basking shark that was taken by Nick Hawkins, a biologist with Quoddy Link Marine. Nick shot this video in the Bay of Fundy in October. In other parts of the world (such as in the UK), basking sharks feed at the surface and can be seen swimming with their mouths open. However, when we see basking sharks at the surface in the Bay of Fundy, their mouths are normally closed (as you can see in this video). It’s likely that basking sharks in the Bay of Fundy are feeding at depth–just like the right whales!

If you look closely at the white patch behind the basking shark’s dorsal fin, you’ll notice there’s a sea lamprey attached to its back. Sea lamprey’s attach themselves to sharks with suction cup-like mouths and rasp away at the shark’s tissue. 

You can find Nick’s video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEUHZip4xPY

Biologists from Quoddy Link Marine have contributed many basking shark photos to our photo ID catalogue and we’re very happy to have their support!

2 Comments

  1. Damo
    January 24, 2013

    Why do you think there is a difference in the feeding behaviour between the UK and Bay of Fundy. Perhaps the sharks feed at the surface at night in the Bay when zooplankton have migrated to the surface?

    Reply
    • fundysharks
      January 25, 2013

      Great question! Many species of plankton undergo diel vertical migration: migrating up to shallower waters during the day and back down to deeper waters at night. In the Bay of Fundy, right whales (and likely basking sharks) are feeding on a species of copepods called Calanus finmarchichus. The bulk of the copepod population that they are feeding on, however, does not undergo diel vertical migration and are found at over 100m in depth. Differences in feeding behaviour of basking sharks between the UK and Bay of Fundy is likely a result of the differences in prey distribution within the water columns.
      If you’d like to learn more about copepod distribution in the Bay of Fundy, check out these papers:

      http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z89-200#.UQJmnR1X2So

      http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v264/p155-166/

      Reply

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