New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project

New England Basking Shark and Ocean Sunfish Project
Image: Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus). Courtesy of Greg Skomal / NOAA Fisheries Service.

The New England Basking Shark Project (NEBShark) and the New England Ocean Sunfish Project (NEOSunfish) are community-sighting networks for large marine fish that live in the Gulf of Maine. Basking sharks and ocean sunfish are common visitors to these cold, productive waters and many are observed throughout the spring, summer and fall in the waters off New England. The NEBShark enables citizen scientists to report sightings of basking sharks and ocean sunfish they see offshore. These efforts help the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA) learn more about the biology and ecology of these large and very special ocean wanderers. Citizen scientists who find a stranded animal (alive or dead) should call the NECWA office at 508-566-0009.
NECWA is a nonprofit organization based in Southeastern Massachusetts. Both projects began in 2005 in an attempt to collect sighting information on basking sharks and ocean sunfish observed in the Gulf of Maine, including the waters of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay and the Bay of Fundy. To learn more about these large coastal pelagic fish, access the menu bar on the top and visit the NECWA Web site and NECWA News Blog to learn more about the other unique marine wildlife that live in our waters, including whales, dolphins, seabirds, seals, sea turtles and torpedo rays.

Project Details

  • SCIENTIST AFFILIATION: New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA)
  • DATES: Ongoing
  • LOCATION: Maine - Areas observed include the Gulf of Maine, including the waters of Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts Bay and the Bay of Fundy.
  • PROJECT TYPE: Fieldwork
  • COST: Free
  • GRADE LEVEL: All Ages

    To report a basking shark sighting and upload images, visit the NEBShark Web site. Ocean Sunfish sightings can likewise be reported.

See more projects in MaineFreeFieldworkAll Ages.

What Is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project was SETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We'll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.

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