Basking Shark Genetic Samples
Our 2020 basking shark skin slime samples have been picked up today to head away for analysis! Our samples were mainly collected as part of our tours, when conditions allowed us to conduct some science on the tours, along with a couple of sharks sampled during our research tour. Unfortunately we didn't get enough people to help with our autumn research so it's likely to be 2021 before we can collect any more samples.
For our sampling protocol we must snorkel with the shark first to gather some information, mainly to find out the sex of the shark but also gather any other markings or presence of parasites such as lampreys.
After snorkelling we have to pick up the swimmers whilst keeping an eye on the shark to make sure we can ID the same individual. Then we get setup to approach the shark and swab it when it’s dorsal fin is out of the water. This is highly technical equipment comprising of a window cleaners extension pole with a small piece of cloth! Using gloves and keeping the sample clean, it’s logged and placed in a tube of alcohol to preserve the material!
During our research tours we go even more in depth and create a basking shark passport where the take pictures of the dorsal fin and lateral line so we can create a large file of information on the shark that can be used as a mark/recapture tool for the future.
See a few pictures from the sampling in action and the collected slime in tubes below. This news article also gives a bit more information about the project here.
Here are our research tours you can join both in the Hebrides based on Coll or around Hebrides/Clyde based in Oban. If you have a group keen then we can do a science specific tour at any time during the season!