Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Basking shark secrets unlocked by DIY kit

Marine scientists have been getting "back to basics" to help unlock the secret lives of basking sharks.
A team of experts in the Isle of Man have come up with a DIY kit comprising of a pan scourer and a window cleaning pole to enable them to collect DNA from sharks.
The innovative design means they can collect dorsal fin slime with the minimum of disruption to the animal.
Basking sharks are classed as "globally vulnerable to extinction" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the key to their survival is finding out as much information as possible about their movements and behaviour.
Coordinator of Manx Basking Shark Watch, Jackie Hall said: "This kit is about getting back to basics to help global conservation efforts- we are combining practical solutions with cutting-edge science."
Basking sharks are still hunted in some waters as part of the finning industry where, horribly enough, they take the fins for shark fin soup and discard the rest of the body”
Jackie Hall Marine Biologist
Mrs Hall, along with her engineer husband Graham, has been granted a special licence by the Isle of Man government to get close to the sharks for research.
The kit idea came after government vets warned against the traditional method of DNA collection, thought to be too invasive to use on an endangered species.
The old method of DNA collection involves putting a small plug in the shark to get a skin sample.
When Mr Hall was told that shark slime was an ideal substance for DNA sampling he set off for his local DIY store for some ideas.

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