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Basking shark and minke whale surveys in Scottish waters

Our HiDef Aerial Surveying Ltd colleagues in England have carried out a pilot study on the abundance of basking sharks and minke whales within the Sea of the Hebrides. Three surveys have been carried out showing that digital aerial surveys using high-definition cameras are suitable for collecting data on these animals.

Whereas minke whales were only observed in very small numbers due to their typically long and deep dives, the method achieved very good results for basking sharks. Basking sharks filter-feed on plankton near the surface.

Scottish Natural Heritage has published the study in the “SNH Research Report 974 – Basking shark and minke whale pilot aerial survey report”. The report is available for download from the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Two basking sharks recorded in an aerial survey in Scottland.

In Europe, basking sharks are mainly distributed within the Irish Sea between Scotland and Ireland. In the North Sea, they are rare visitors but even here single individuals were already captured by our cameras. Even a minke whale could be recorded in the North Sea.

Since 2016, the English company HiDef Aerial Surveying Ltd is part of BioConsult SH.

For more information on our digital aerial surveys, click here.