Manx Basking Shark Watch are celebrating the return of a satellite tag that was recovered from a Welsh beach after a 10-day search by local residents.
The tag was originally attached to a seven metre basking shark, nicknamed King Orry, near Peel in August 2013 and spent 448 days collecting data before becoming detached earlier this month.
Manx Basking Shark Watch (MBSW) co-ordinator Jackie Hall knew that the tag was floating free and followed it as it came ashore a few miles east of Tenby in south Wales.
She explained: ‘I put out the story via our Facebook page that the tag was on a beach in Wales and we’d really like to get it back.’
But she soon learned that the beach was used as a firing range and would only be open to the public for a few days, prompting several teams to search the beach.
She said: ‘I knew that if we didn’t get to it by the weekend, we probably wouldn’t get it back because the beach was closing again.
After 10 days of searching by volunteers the tag was picked up on Saturday morning by Michael Karpaty, a local resident who was looking for driftwood.
Jackie said: ‘Somebody passed him and he asked, ‘why are there so many people on the beach?’. He’d seen the report on the news about the missing tag, and shortly afterwards he found it.’
The tags provide invaluable information about the habits of these little-understood sharks, and MBSW’s new tags - known as SPOT tags - can transmit for far longer than in the past.
Jackie said: ‘This is by far the longest we’ve had a tag on any shark. We’ve found out loads from him.
‘The great thing about the SPOT tags is that anybody can follow them online, and we get very accurate location information, which is how we’re able to retrieve them.’
The tag, which cost around £1,500, can now be serviced and used again next season.
Jackie added: ‘It’s a good reminder that they are still out there, 365 days a year, but we only see them for a few months in the summer.’