We are moving!

SIN

 

Our new SIN website is now LIVE!

From this website, you can submit you sightings and photographs, learn more about sharks, not only in the Bay of Fundy, but in the western North Atlantic and you’ll be able to browse our Basking Shark Photo ID Catalogue (currently still a work in progress). There is also a map showing where sharks have been sighted. Please check it out!

Since we’ve expanded, we are also going to move this blog to the new SIN website blog. You will be automatically re-directed, but we wanted to let everyone know in advance so that there’s no confusion!

See you there!

 

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It’s a tie!

Earlier this morning, I posted a photograph of the first basking shark sighted in the Bay of Fundy for the year. Well, I just it turns out that some passengers on the ferry from Black’s Harbour to Grand Manan ALSO saw a basking shark that same day, between Grand Manan and the Wolves.

Around 2:30pm, they watched the basking shark, only 100m away, swimming at the surface for about 10 minutes. It was travelling the same direction as the ferry. Great sighting! And thanks for reporting what you saw!

Here is an updated map of the two basking shark sightings made on July 3, 2013.

The approximate location of the basking shark seen from the ferry on July 3, 2013 and another sighting made by Laurie Murison that same day.

The approximate location of the basking shark seen from the ferry on July 3, 2013 and another sighting made by Laurie Murison that same day.

Back in the Bay

Let the 2013 season begin! The first basking shark of the year (for the Bay of Fundy) was sighted the other day (July 3) by Laurie Murison, on board the Elsie Minota.

We haven’t had a chance to compare this individual to the others in our photo ID catalogue, but in the meantime, have a look at this shark’s dorsal fin!

Basking shark photographed in the Bay of Fundy by Laurie Murison on July 3, 2013.

Basking shark photographed in the Bay of Fundy by Laurie Murison on July 3, 2013.

Location of the first basking shark sighted in the Bay of Fundy in 2013. Sighting made my Laurie Murison on July 3, 2013

Location of the first basking shark sighted in the Bay of Fundy in 2013. Sighting made my Laurie Murison on July 3, 2013

Allies in Action

We just recently returned from a whirlwind tour of parts of the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine to speak with marine users about the Shark Identification Network (SIN). We were in St Andrews,  Eastport, Campobello and Lubec before spending a couple days in Bar Harbor, Maine to spread the word.

One of the organizations we spoke with in Bar Harbor was Allied Whale, College of the Atlantic’s marine mammal research group. Their research focuses on the conservation of marine mammals and their habitat, primarily in the Gulf of Maine. They also use photo-id to study humpback whales and finback whales. AND, lucky for us, it turns out that for the past 11 years, they have also been recording shark sightings and their keen interns have taken many photographs of basking sharks over the years. The researchers at Allied Whale are very happy to contribute their shark sightings and photographs to SIN and are in the process of compiling all their shark data for us. We are very excited to collaborate with them and all of us can’t wait to see if there will be any matches to our existing basking shark photo-ID catalogue.

Stay tuned for more news about how the matching is going. In the meantime, check out these two incredible photographs taken by one of Allied Whale’s interns, Glauco Puig-Santana, on June 19, 2013. This shark was feeding right next to their boat!

Basking shark feeding at the surface. Photographed by Glauco A. Puig-Santana, Allied Whale, on June 19, 2013.

Basking shark feeding at the surface. Photographed by Glauco A. Puig-Santana, Allied Whale, on June 19, 2013.

Feeding basking shark making a sharp turn. Photographed by  Glauco A. Puig-Santana, Allied Whale, on June 19, 2013.

Feeding basking shark making a sharp turn. Photographed by Glauco A. Puig-Santana, Allied Whale, on June 19, 2013.

Location of basking shark sighted on June 19, 2013 by Allied Whale.

Location of basking shark sighted on June 19, 2013 by Allied Whale.

Allied Whale is also on Facebook.

We’re expanding!

SIN

It’s the first day of summer and things are starting to get busy. We just recently heard that we’ve received some Habitat Stewardship Funding (HSP) to expand our Bay of Fundy Basking Shark Photo ID Catalogue and Shark Sighting Database to the Eastern seaboard: from the Gulf of Maine up to Newfoundland! And since that’s quite a mouthful, we’ve coined this initiative the Shark Identification Network. Yes, that’s right, our acronym is SIN.

By expanding our program, we’ll have a better understanding of the distribution, movements and occurrence of sharks not only in the Bay of Fundy, but in other regions of the Northwest Atlantic–with your help, of course. The expansion will occur over a three year period. This summer, we’ll be focusing on the Gulf of Maine, the rest of Nova Scotia and, of course, continuing our work in the Bay of Fundy. Many of the basking sharks seen in the Bay of Fundy during the summer likely travel through the Gulf of Maine, so we’re hoping that we’ll find matches between the two areas.

This weekend, we’ll be meeting with whale watch companies in Bar Harbor, as well as Eastport, Lubec, and Campobello. And we’ll be meeting with the whale watch companies in St Andrews that were already participating last summer. We are also working on a new website for SIN where visitors will be able to learn more about the individuals identified in our Basking Shark Photo ID Catalogue. So, please stay tuned! We’ll let you know when that goes live!

Basking shark photographed in the Bay of Fundy on July 9, 2006

Basking shark photographed in the Bay of Fundy on July 9, 2006

They’re back…. (well, almost)

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Basking shark photographed in the Bay of Fundy, September 9, 2010 (photo credit: S. Wong)

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.

Location of four basking sharks sighted on April 15, 2013. They were seen very close together, which is why the markers are overlapping in this map.

Location of four basking sharks sighted on April 15, 2013. They were seen very close together, which is why the markers are overlapping in this map.

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. 

 

Shark Facts Part V: Uh oh, better get Mako!

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Shortfin mako shark

The shortfin mako shark isn’t about to help you out with collision repair or auto painting, but it is a top predator in the ocean, with few predators other than humans. With a circumglobal distribution, the mako can be found in all the world’s temperate and tropical waters. They are rarely found in waters colder than 16 degrees Celsius. In Atlantic Canada, makos sharks are most commonly seen on the Scotian Shelf, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and southern Newfoundland. They are occasionally sighted in the Bay of Fundy.

Here are some fun facts:

  • A large, pelagic shark, makos are normally about 10ft in length but do reach 13ft.
  • Diet: fish, squid, other sharks and sometimes porpoises.
  • Distinct countershading: dorsal side is metallic blue, ventral side is white.
  • Torpedo-shaped body and long, pointed snout.
  • Teeth can still be seen even when mouth is closed.
  • Fastest of all shark species in the world, regularly attaining speeds of 35km/hr and even up to 74km/hr!
  • Known to breach the surface, reaching heights of 20ft!
  • IUCN: listed as vulnerable.
  • COSEWIC: listed as threatened.
  • In Atlantic Canada, historical catch rates suggest a population decline of at least 50% between 1971 and 2002.
  • Mako sharks are highly significant for commercial fisheries (meat is of high quality and value) and recreational fisheries (prized game fish).
  • Vulnerable to overexploitation and common bycatch species in some fisheries.
  • Since 2006, measures have been adopted to conserve this species, including live release.