Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Missing basking shark tag found on Welsh beach by man collecting driftwood

Basking shark Image copyright PA
Image caption The missing tag (right) came off a basking shark being studied by researchers on the Isle of Man

A satellite tag used by scientists to track the movement of a basking shark has been found on a beach in south Wales by a man collecting driftwood.

The tag became detached and was washed ashore 14 months ago, prompting an appeal from Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW) for its return.

A spokesman for the group said they were "absolutely delighted".

The six-inch (15cm) long tag, worth about £1,000, was found four miles west of Llanmiloe by Mike Karpaty.

The device came off a shark called 'King Orry' after more than 450 days.

Image copyright Mike Karpaty
Image caption Mike Karpaty had been collecting driftwood when he found the satellite tag

The satellite technology is called smart position or temperature (SPOT) tagging and is used by scientists to find out more about where basking sharks travel during the winter and to what depths they can swim.

The tags are attached to the dorsal fin of the shark by scientists working for the Isle of Man government-licensed MBSW organisation.

Basking sharks

  • Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world (behind whale sharks) and feed on plankton
  • They can grow to 11m (36ft) and weigh up to seven tonnes
  • The sharks are protected in UK waters but still hunted around the world for the finning industry
  • The sharks are frequently spotted off the British Isles between May and September
  • They are listed as threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature
  • In 2008 a female basking shark tagged near the Manx coast travelled across the Atlantic to Canada

Marine biologist Jackie Hall said King Orry's tale proved to be an unusual one.

"He didn't surface for a whole year after he was tagged," she said, "proving yet again that these rare and endangered species spend the vast majority of their time at depth and that they need protecting in their deep-sea habitats as well as when they are at the surface."

It is hoped the research will ultimately lead to increased levels of international protection for the species.

The Manx Basking Shark Watch has tagged a total of 26 sharks over several years.

Many reside in the Irish and Celtic Seas, with some feeding off the North West of Scotland.

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