Florida Breaks more Records and Pops up off Straights of Gibraltar

1: He keeps his tag on for 779 days.

2: He keeps on popping up off Morocco.
3: He’s utilising a huge stretch of coastline of at least 3000km length.
4: Drone footage of his school gets to be seen on the BBC!

FLOWRIDER, a huge male basking shark is well over 8m long but as big sharks do he had also ‘bulked up’. He was in a large group of at least 20 basking sharks that visited Manx waters for a single day on 7th August 2015. The Manx Basking Shark Watch research team tagged 3 of them.

In January 2016 Flowrider became the first basking shark satellite tagged in Manx waters to travel to waters off Morocco. That was exciting enough but the team could hardly contain their delight when he returned to waters offshore of Morocco on 15th November 2016, January 2017 and September 2017. He is now (September 2017) way West of the Straights of Gibraltar. By September 2017 he had kept his tag on for 779 days and he had repeatedly utilised the stretch of water from Scotland to Southern Morocco, at least 3000km! See http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=1123 and click on Flowrider’s name.

Like all basking sharks FLOWRIDER manages to keep some secrets such as WHERE WAS HE the whole summer of 2017? Did he pop up to France and Ireland for some summer feeding as he did in the summer of 2016, without popping to the surface or did he stay deep off the African coast? We cannot know with this kind of tag but the Manx Basking Shark Watch team are NOT complaining because the advantage of the SPOT tags is that thew battery can last for a long time.

FLOWRIDER has shown a very interesting migratory pattern, travelling from Manx waters, popping up off the Moroccan coast in January 2016. We didn’t hear from his tag again until 31st of March 2016 when it signalled as being up off the French coast. He must have found a good surface plankton bloom to feed from offshore of La Rochelle as he kept on coming to the surface there for 2 weeks. He then popped up for a day near Brest, France. In May 2016 he had been surface feeding off the southern Irish coast for a week when James McCarthy took great drone video footage of Flowrider’s school! Seeflowrider-off-gibraltar. He then travelled to the north of Ireland and we didn’t hear from his tag again until he popped up off Morocco for the second time in January 2017. Florida confounded us by apparently doing no surface feeding in the summer of 2017 and then popping up again way West of the Straights of Gibraltar and feeding on the surface there for a week.

When we add the results of all basking shark researchers together we start to see an overall pattern of seasonal migrations between British, French, Spanish and Moroccan waters that will enable Marine planners to make informed Marine Management decisions. See more about satellite tagged basking sharks at www.wildlifetracking.org. As you will see, Dr Matt Witt of Exeter University has tagged some basking sharks in NW Scotland that have gone to Moroccan waters.

MANY thanks to SEALIFE BLACKPOOL for raising enough money to enable us to recycle this tag and re-use it and for nick-naming this shark Flowrider. The Manx Lottery Trust has very kindly sponsored some satellite time on this project known as “There’s a basking shark on my phone”.