Bumper Year For Marine Wildlife Around Scilly

A blue shark on board the Sapphire. Photo by Robin Mawer.

A blue shark on board the Sapphire. Photo by Robin Mawer.

 

It’s been a bumper year for catching sharks in the waters around Scilly.

Joe Pender, who operates the Sapphire tripper boat, says this season has brought the biggest haul that he can remember.

69 blue sharks have been caught so far, including ten on a single evening this week, which he says is keeping the visiting fishermen happy.

The most he’s seen in previous years was 52 and this year’s total is even more amazing as the season’s been shorter. The fish appeared five weeks later than usual because of the poor weather this spring.

In 2009, new regulations were brought in which meant blue sharks caught in British waters had to be released and Joe thinks that’s why the population might be doing so well.

There’s also been an increase in many of the smaller fish species like mackerel that they feed on.

The sharks landed on the Sapphire are tagged before being put back in the water and some from previous years have been recaptured as far away as the Azores.

But not everyone has been quite so happy with the boom in the shark population.

Several tabloid newspapers have carried reports of ‘killer’ blue sharks spotted off Cornish and Welsh beaches this summer.

Sharks aren’t the only species that are booming this year.

Paul Semmens who makes regular wildlife surveys from onboard the Scillonian III, says he’s never seen so many ocean sunfish.

On one crossing in August he saw twelve of the distinctive fish. Like Joe, he feels that there’s plenty of food around this year and also the calmer conditions make it easier to spot them.

Paul said last year was a very good one for leatherback turtles, which start to appear in late summer.

He’s spotted a few already in the past couple of weeks, including a six-foot specimen and says early indications are it could be another decent year for the marine reptiles.