Operation Basking Shark in full swing in Sardinia

This is a post for our international friends, a recap of the last week in Sardinia where our research on the presence and habits of the basking shark is taking place (BTW – basking sharks are those funny giant sharks that often swim at the surface, mouth agape, to filter plankton. That’s all they eat, so no need to worry if you see a 8 meter shark in the water!)

We’ve been collecting information on these animals for many years, and have come to understand that they arrive in Sardinia every year as winter turns into spring. They actually did it this year too: if you scroll on this blog or on our facebook profile (please do become friends!) there are several photos and videos taken at the beginning of March.

We’ve now covered nearly 2000 km (on an island which is 300 km long!!) in order to visit every big and small port; we’ve spoken to fishermen, Coast Guard, the marine division of the Forestry, all the Marine parks and research centers. Even pilots! But the sharks seem to have vanished.

Everyone now knows our project – indeed, many have generously given us all their photos and videos, even from sightings dating a fwe years back, all of which are very important for our study. Everybody knows that we’d love to hear if any shark is spotted along the coast: our tools – cameras, video, a pole to collect their DNA – are ready and we are equally ready to leap into action. We want to know where the sharks come from and where they go – and we’ll try to find that out by studying their DNA and, starting next year, with satellite tags. Our main tool is the ID-photos that we are collecting (several of these sharks have pretty unregular fins), which we will be sharing with other researchers studying these animals in the UK. These guys havebeen tracked for hundred of miles, even thousands across oceans, so I wouldnt be terribly surprised if my sharks’ fins match those taken in… Scotland for example!

Except, it has never happend yet. But that’s also because nobody before us ever studied these sharks in the Med! 🙂

Operazione Squalo Elefante – Operation Basking Shark – is a research project started in 2005 by MedSharks and now led in conjunction with CTS, thanks to the generous support of the Associazione Italiana della Foundation Prince Albert II de Monaco ONLUS.

It is led by Eleonora de Sabata and Simona Clò.


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