The first study to successfully track a basking shark using a robot camera has shed new light on the behaviour of the world’s second largest fish.
An autonomous ‘SharkCam’ underwater vehicle (AUV) was deployed in the UK for the first time last summer to observe and gather footage of the behaviour of basking sharks in the Inner Hebrides.
The REMUS SharkCam technology is owned and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). The project is funded by WWF/Sky Ocean Rescue, NatureScot, WHOI and the University of Exeter.
Little is known about the underwater behaviour of the globally-endangered species, despite basking sharks being prevalent in the waters off the west coast of Scotland.
The SharkCam followed three basking sharks below the surface of the water, collecting video of their behaviour from a distance as they swam off the coast of Coll and Tiree.
The international team of researchers recently published their findings in the journal Animal Biotelemetry.
Detailed examination of the footage revealed the sharks spending an unexpected amount of time swimming near the seabed - a behaviour which has not often been reported for the species.
Notably the sharks were not seen to be feeding – which researchers believe adds weight to the theory that the species visits Scottish waters not to feed but to breed.