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Basking sharks travel to familiar feeding sites in family groups
Basking sharks were recently classed as 'endangered' on the IUCN Red List.

Study sheds new light on migration routes of sharks

A new study from the University of Aberdeen has revealed that basking sharks prefer to travel migratory routes in groups of extended family.

Often sighted near the coast, basking sharks have been snown to cross ocean basins and equatorial regions. It was previously believed that they moved into warmer waters seeking plankton in unrelated groups, but genetic sampling of shark aggregations has shown otherwise.

Scientists built up a register of more than 400 DNA profiles by swabbing the skin mucus of free-swimming sharks at key sites in the Northeast Atlantic during the summer months.

Using this register of genetic profiles, the research teams were able to identify individual basking sharks when they arrived to feed. Some of these sharks were seen multiple times within the same season, and then again in following years, sometimes on roughly the same date and in locations only kilometres apart.

According to the study, widespread, regular sampling revealed basking shark groups consist of individuals more related to each other than the rest of the population, indicating a tendency to travel as extended family parties following prescribed seasonal migration routes.

“Perhaps relatives hang out together, which could facilitate learning migration routes and encourage other cooperative behaviours,” says study co-lead Dr Catherine Jones of the University of Aberdeen, “This means there’s more going on in basking shark aggregations than first appears, in that they don’t fit the shark stereotype of a lonesome independent predator.”

The study estimated the basking shark population size to be less than 10,000 in Northeast Atlantic waters. The species is also particularly vulnerable to environmental change, which could be exacerbated by the loss of important genetic differences carried by kin groups. The authors state that continued genetic sampling at key sites is an essential monitoring tool in basking shark conservation.

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.