Basking Sharks Arrive to the Hebrides
We've had a very busy period recently during spring which has than full coincided with amazing weather in the western isles. We've had many weeks of lovely sunny and hot weather, with calm sea conditions making for stunning opportunities at sea. We have had a number of film crews with us, undertaking a variety of subjects and locations. In combination with our own filming it's been a busy month, see a small film the Luke put together from our recent missions and jobs below. Media and Diving Days - Spring Filming Locations from Basking Shark Scotland on Vimeo. Although we've had some basking shark sightings during May, the spring arrivals seem to a be a little later this and showing a similar pattern to 2013. Although we've had very good conditions for plankton production we haven't had any large zooplankton blooms until relatively recently. These blooms are always dependant on a number of factors such as sunlight, water temperature, upwelling of nutrients to kick start phytoplankton and then in turn zooplankton and then basking sharks. This year, we have had very settled weather, hot and sunny with winds from the E and N quadrants rather than traditional W/SW (coming from the Atlantic). So our feeling is that we've had great conditions weather wise, but perhaps not enough stormy conditions to promote nutrient upwelling and one of the vital components for a good bloom. The water has warmed up quite a lot recently and we've had a number of reports recently along with our own sighting last week. See below for a shark spotted during one of our research cruises in perfect conditions. This combined with other sightings seems like the main arrival for Basking Sharks into the Hebrides for 2016 and quite a similar pattern for 2013 which resulted in a strong basking shark season. See below for and some aerial drone footage from our head guide Luke. Quite interesting but at the time the shark was noted not to be feeding and perhaps transiting to a location with better plankton. First aerial footage of basking sharks returning to Scottish waters from Basking Shark Scotland on Vimeo. [caption id="attachment_3728" align="aligncenter" width="960"] 2016 Season Basking Shark[/caption] Other notable sightings include some good signs of the resident bottlenose dolphins with the calf spotted last year getting bigger. Porpoises have been sighted in good numbers recently, perhaps more so due to calm conditions making it easier to spot them from the boat. Large pods of common dolphins have also been seen with last thursday being a day to remember with hundreds around us. We haven't noted quite so many Minke Whales as yet, but perhaps more to do with our working locations not being in optimal whale grounds. Sea eagles have also been making regular appearances at our known sites and great to see them doing well year on year. Other seabirds have also made a welcome return with large clouds of max shearwaters seen at sea, with the Auks of the Treshnish Isles doing well and feeding and nesting in great numbers.