facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

British basking sharks in comeback

July 23, 2012 at 6:28 PM   |   Comments

EXETER, England, July 23 (UPI) -- The number of basking sharks seen in Britain's marine waters appears be increasing since they were protected under U.K. legislation in 1998, researchers say.

Protected by British and international conservation agreements, basking sharks are regularly seen off the coast during the summer, but very little is known about where and how they live for the rest of the year, researchers at the University of Exeter said.

More than 81,000 were killed in the northeast Atlantic Ocean between 1952 and 2004, hunted largely for their liver oil.

University researchers, along with the Marine Conservation Society, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Wave Action, analyzed 20 years of public sightings -- a total of 11,781 records -- and boat-based basking shark surveys to complete the largest study of its kind.

Sightings from the 1980s through to the 2000s revealed an increase in the proportion of medium and large-sized animals, suggesting an increase in the number of older sharks. Basking shark populations are believed to recover slowly from over-exploitation due to their slow growth to maturity and the relatively few offspring they produce in comparison to other fish species, researchers said.

Analysis of sightings suggests long-term protection may well be paying off, they said, with British basking shark populations showing increasing body size, a classic sign of recovery for over-exploited fish stocks.

"Our research shows that basking sharks could be recovering from the extensive hunting that took place in the 20th century," Exeter researcher Brendan Godley said. "Anyone who has had the experience of seeing a basking shark from our coastline will know what awe-inspiring creatures they are and our research suggests that more of us may be fortunate enough to see them in the future."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
45,000-year-old man reveals earliest human genome 45,000-year-old man reveals earliest human genome
2
Coal-rich Poland wants concessions in EU climate deal Coal-rich Poland wants concessions in EU climate deal
3
Chimps caught on film raiding corn farm, having sex Chimps caught on film raiding corn farm, having sex
4
Dude! Company floats fly hoverboard Dude! Company floats fly hoverboard
5
Protestors object plans to build telescope on land sacred to native Hawaiians Protestors object plans to build telescope on land sacred to native Hawaiians
Trending News
Around the Web
x
Feedback