The Marine Conservation Society wants to know if you’ve seen any basking sharks, turtles or jellyfish – in UK and Irish waters.
Jellyfish? Yes, because jellyfish are the favourite food of Leatherback Turtles. And they don’t just want to know about live jellyfish but about strandings on beaches as well. Identification of live jellyfish is usually easy but once they’ve washed up on the beach it can become more difficult. They want you to therefore send photos if possible, and offer a jellyfish identification guide.
Leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) are the largest species of turtle, and occasional visitors to the North and Irish seas. By comparing the distribution of jellyfish with environmental factors such as sea temperature, plankton production and current flow, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) hope to understand what influences the seasonal distribution of jellyfish and leatherbacks in UK waters.
The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is Britain’s largest fish. They can grow up to 11 metres long and weigh up to 7 tonnes – about the size and weight of a double-decker bus. Once numerous in the UK basking sharks were hunted for their liver oil and their populations declined to such an extent that now they are considered to be endangered in UK waters. The MCS Basking Shark Watch programme has generated the largest basking shark sightings database in the world and is instrumental in identifying surface feeding hotspots.
So if you dive around UK or Ireland, get over to the MCS site and report your sitings at http://www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do/Wildlife protection/Report wildlife sightings/Report wildlife sightings