Donegal fishermen catch biggest shark ever in Irish waters
The largest shark ever recorded in Irish waters was caught by a team of fishermen and scientists last week.
In a word
Three local fishermen and an international team of scientists caught and released a record-breaking porbeagle off the Donegal coast last week.
It is the largest shark ever recorded in Irish waters, measuring over 2.8 meters and weighing up to 227 kg. He is probably between 25 and 30 years old.
The huge female porbeagle shark, which the team has nicknamed Danu, is a close relative of the great white shark and is considered “critically endangered”. Despite their size, porbeagles are not considered dangerous to humans and very few attacks have been recorded.
The Shark Catching Team
Three local anglers, Sid, Terry and Peter from counties Cork, Down and Antrim respectively, worked together to catch the giant ‘porgie’.
They transferred it to the scientists’ ship so the team, led by Trinity College Dublin, could quickly measure it, attach two different types of satellite tags and take samples to examine breeding status.
She was handled and tagged safely and released in good health. One of its satellite beacons will transmit a wealth of information to the satellite about its migration history and the ocean conditions encountered, before detaching in a few months.
Almost 48 hours after her release, Danu’s satellite beacon revealed she was already almost to the Hebrides in Scotland.
Nick Payne, shark biologist and assistant professor at Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, said it was an important moment: “It’s exciting to see such huge porbeagle sharks in Irish waters.
“The conservation status of porbeagle is truly concerning in this part of the world, with the European population considered critically endangered. There is evidence that the Donegal coast can act as a globally important breeding area for this species, with many very large female sharks appearing here for a short period in the spring.
Last week’s trip was the first in a new research collaboration between Trinity, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and local shark fishermen, as well as leading scientists from James Cook University (Australia), the University of Miami and the American non-profit organization Beneath the Waves.
Payne added: “It has been an amazing start to an important new project, where we will be working with the local shark fishing community to learn as much as possible about porbeagle movements and their breeding dynamics in Irish waters. If it is an important breeding site, we need to know about it, so that we can best monitor and conserve the animals when they visit our shores.
Jenny Bortoluzzi, a PhD student at the Trinity School of Natural Sciences, took blood samples from the shark.
She said: “This underscores once again the importance of collaboration between scientists and fishers in a citizen science context, and Ireland’s potential key role in conservation as a biodiversity hotspot. Marine.”
Overfishing has caused porbeagle stocks to decline sharply since the 1930s, and commercial fishing by EU vessels has been banned under EU regulations since 2010. The International Council for the Sea exploration considers there to be only one stock in the northeast Atlantic, with tagging data showing that individual porbeagles can migrate long distances throughout the region.
“If we want to see the recovery of the European porbeagle population, it is particularly important to monitor the breeding grounds. If Ireland is a key breeding site, we really have a global responsibility to protect the porbeagle who use this area,” Payne said.
IFI Principal Scientist Willie Roche said: “Understanding the movements and migrations of porbeagle, particularly the large females we are targeting for tagging, will go a long way in identifying potential challenges to their continued survival, as well as reconstruct their seasonal patterns.
“Satellite tagging data is complemented by IFI’s long-standing marine fish tagging program, which uses conventional tags to primarily tag elasmobranchs. The role of anglers in these two tagging initiatives highlights the importance of their contribution to targeted tagging studies and, as active observers of the marine environment, to the ongoing monitoring of elasmobranch species in general. .
The shark, which the team nicknamed Danu, was safely handled and tagged and released healthy. One of its satellite beacons will transmit a wealth of information to the satellite about its migration history and the ocean conditions encountered, before detaching in a few months.
A second “SPOT” beacon provides near real-time data on its location each time its fin breaks the surface of the water – a characteristic of porbeagle.
Payne said Danu had come a long way already and was almost in the Hebrides in Scotland 48 hours after his release. A second large female porbeagle (about 2.4m long, nicknamed Sorcha) was also tagged and released, but she was spending more time browsing in the same area where she was captured.
The research team plans to tag more porbeagle in the near future. Analysis of blood samples taken last week will begin almost immediately.
Marine protected areas
Ireland’s seas are seven times larger than the country’s landmass, but just over 2% of our waters are designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
And this despite a target of 10% MPAs to help already declining species and habitats as well as coastal communities by 2020.
Leading national environmental groups have joined forces to launch the Fair Seas campaign in a bid to force change.
There is no definition of an MPA in Irish law and urgently urge the government to create strong and ambitious legislation to protect, manage and monitor Irish waters to the edge of the continental shelf.
The Fair Seas campaign calls on the government to protect 10% of Irish waters by 2025 and 30% by 2030.