Trinity College Dublin: Trinity marine biologists support Save Our Shark campaign

Marine biologists from Trinity are among those supporting the Save Our Shark campaign, which has inspired over 9,000 people to petition Government to afford legal protection to basking sharks in Irish waters.

In May, Social Democrat TD and former marine biologist, Jennifer Whitmore, proposed in the Dáil to amend the Wildlife Act (1976) to include the basking shark, so as to provide legal protection to the shark in Irish territorial waters.

Last month an international consortium of leading scientists and conservation organisations called on the Irish Government to provide legal protection for the basking shark in Irish waters. In an open letter these scientists outlined why Ireland needs to legally protect this endangered shark.

Dr Nick Payne, Assistant Professor in Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, leads a marine biology research group engaged in basking shark research. He said:

“We in Ireland are privileged to have these incredible animals grace us with their presence every year, and in such large numbers. But this also means we have an international responsibility to protect them, because the global population of basking sharks is not in good shape, and Ireland is one of the most important habitats for the entire species. It is our duty to protect them. Giving basking sharks protection in Ireland under the Wildlife Act is a total no-brainer.”

Dr Simon Berrow, lecturer at Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and founder-member of the Irish Basking Shark Group, said:

“The basking shark has a long historical association with coastal communities along the western seaboard of Ireland. Therefore, it isn’t surprising this campaign resonated with so many. Basking sharks are one of most iconic and mysterious marine species that visit Irish waters, growing up to 12 metres long. They are often seen ‘basking lazily’ on the surface of the sea during hot spring and summer days. The time is right to afford these magnificent animals legal protection in Irish waters.”

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