Sunday, July 22, 2012

Basking Shark Photo-id Catalogue and Sighting Database

Globally, sharks are becoming increasingly recognized as species of conservation concern. Threats to sharks in Atlantic Canada include: bycatch and entanglement in fisheries and, in the case of Basking sharks, vessel strikes. The Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk have funded a GMWSRS project to expand both our photo-identification catalogue of basking sharks for the Bay of Fundy and a shark sighting database.

At least six species of shark inhabit the Bay of Fundy, but little is known about their distribution, movements or occurrence in the Bay and even less so about the threats they face.

Video of a basking shark taken from a whale watching vessel July 21, 2012 south of Grand Manan Island
To learn more about sharks in the Bay of Fundy, the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station needs your help and contribution to:

1. Basking Shark Photo ID Catalogue. Photos of individual sharks can tell us whether the same sharks return to the Bay of Fundy year after year and how individuals use the Bay within the same season.

Basking shark dorsal fin photographed July 8, 2012 off Grand Manan Island
2. Shark Sighting Database. Sightings of all shark species will provide a better understanding of shark distribution and occurrence in the Bay of Fundy.

Individual Basking Sharks can be identified based on the shape of their dorsal fins and location of nicks and notches. Submit your sighting and photographs online:
  • Email:
  • Phone (toll-free): Via Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) Hotline 1-866-567-6277

Sperm Whales Return to the Bay for Third Year

Tail of a sperm whale seen in the Bay of Fundy July 21, Laurie Murison photographer
July 21 marked the beginning of the third summer sperm whales have been seen in the Bay of Fundy.  At least two males were seen in the upper Grand Manan Basin during a whale watch.  There have been squid at the wharf in North Head on Grand Manan Island since early June.  A sperm whale had been seen on an aerial survey for right whales in the lower Gulf of Maine in June and these combined made it likely that sperm whales would again be seen here.

In late August a dead sperm whale was found near Bar Harbor and was towed in to be necropsied.  A cause of death was not determined.  Sperm whales were not seen off Grand Manan after this time and the squid that had been at the wharves also disappeared.