July 27, 2008

Volunteers Needed to Help Basking Shark Survey ; Volunteers Are Being Asked to Log Sightings of Basking Sharks in a Survey That Aims to Find Out More About the World’s Second Largest Fish.

Volunteers are being asked to log sightings of basking sharks in a survey that aims to find out more about the world's second largest fish.

The Seaquest Basking Shark project is taking place at two locations off the Cornish coast and aims to collect information and raise public awareness of the giant fish and the threats they face.

The project is being run by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust (CWT) and SeaWatch, and shark-spotting points will be set up at Gwennap Head and at Carn Gloose, near Cape Cornwall.

Tom Hardy, marine conservation officer for the CWT, said a number of marine life surveys had been carried out before but this was the first specifically for basking sharks.

He said: "The project is important because basking sharks are a protected species and we know very little about them.

"They are the second largest fish in the world and this information can help establish details about their behaviour.

"We hope to continue the project for a few more weeks and publish the results about three months after that."

The CWT is appealing for volunteers to come forward who can log shark sightings.

Last year, SeaWatch surveys recorded 656 basking sharks from Gwennap Head and six species of cetacean.

The basking shark is the UK's biggest wild visitor.

Harmless to humans, the sharks eat only plankton and can grow up to 39ft in length and weigh up to seven tonnes.

Lauren Davis, Seaquest Basking Shark Project volunteer, said: "Our seas are so poorly protected compared to the land.

"Hopefully these surveys will provide decision-makers with the data necessary to give basking sharks the protection that is urgently needed."

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