SSACN: Tagged tope shark recaptured after over 10 years
Scottish Sea Angling Conservation Network ( SSACN )
12. February 2015
Days at liberty record for Tope broken
A new ‘record’ of 3,716 days at liberty between initial tagging and first recapture for tope has been recorded by our Scottish Shark Tagging Programme ( SSTP – tagsharks.org) – it beat the previous ‘record’ for tope which stood at 2032 days.
Recaptures, especially after long periods at liberty, clearly show the benefit of SSACN’s tagging programme and the long term commitment of our volunteer ‘Citizen Scientist’ sea anglers.
Male Tope # 21161 was originally tagged and subsequently recaptured in Luce Bay, SW Scotland, co-incidentally by the same charter boat. The original capture and recapture locations, approximately 12 miles apart, are indicated on the map by the right and left hand markers respectively.
The fish had put on 8 lbs between captures and at 46 lb’s total weight it is now fairly close to the maximum size for male tope.
Through recapture returns and the use of sophisticated Data Storage Tags, the Scottish Shark Tagging Programme has been able to show that Luce Bay as an extremely important mating location for tope who reside there throughout the summer months before make their annual migration south to areas such as the Bay of Biscay and the Azores each winter.
Whilst this new record for tope doesn’t approach our common skate record of 5703 days, it is very impressive given that unlike common skate, which have a high degree of site fidelity, the tope may well have swum over 30,000 miles in the 3,716 days and will have successfully evaded all the natural dangers and those created through commercial exploitation of the species.
The numbers of tope in Luce Bay appear to be declining annually, a consultation regarding the proposed management of the Luce Bay SAC recently finished gathering input – it is hoped that the Government and it’s fisheries managers identify a suitable regime which will ensure the future for tope and perhaps provide the foundation for the recovery of the many other species which have become locally depleted due to excessive exploitation and the destruction of large areas of the sea bed.
As always, the fish was returned to the sea unharmed and perhaps we’ll see it once again.