Have you seen a basking shark?
Basking sharks can frequently be spotted in Scotland, mainly found around the Western Isles, where we have some of the world’s largest aggregations of this species. They are also seen in the Northern Isles and on the east coast of Scotland.
The first sightings in the year are usually reported in April when basking sharks begin to migrate to our shores and leave during the autumn. The peak of basking shark sightings usually occurs in July and August.
Help us learn about basking sharks
We have been recording basking shark sightings since 2012 and have a long-term project to monitor the distribution and abundance of the sharks. We combine submissions from the public with our own observations during our tours and research trips. Sightings are recorded throughout Scotland, in addition to our local sightings in the Hebrides. Our data has contributed to scientific research, assisting scientists from Marine Conservation International and Heriot-Watt University.
Basking sharks are a really understudied species, and there is still a lot we don’t know about them, their migrations and life history. Having a better understanding of the population dynamics of basking sharks in the northeast Atlantic can help us better inform policy to protect this endangered species in the future. You can join us as a citizen scientist by reporting your basking shark sightings below. The more data we can gather the better, with lots of people around the country working together we can provide a much more complete picture of the basking shark in Scotland.