Whale carcass to be used as shark bait in Irish Sea

Well-known adventurer and television presenter Ben Fogle is a man on a mission — the daring documentarian is out to prove there are great white sharks lurking in the depths of the Irish Sea.

Whale carcass to be used as shark bait in Irish Sea

The broadcaster, who has hosted various adventure programmes for Sky, Discovery, National Geographic, and the BBC, is trying to lure the predators out from whatever rock they’ve been hiding under by tempting them with the carcass of a whale.

The female humpback, which weighs in excess of seven tonnes, drowned off the Scottish coast in June when it became tangled in some creel rope and was unable to free itself.

The Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme (SMASS) donated the carcass to the experiment and it was then transported to Wales and frozen using four tonnes of liquid nitrogen.

Now, the decomposing hulk is being dragged through the Irish Sea with a number of cameras strapped to it.

The footage will form part of an ITV documentary looking at how marine life will react to the carcass and also hopes to prove the presence of great white sharks in the area.

Big Wave TV, the production company behind the project, said it has waited for more than two years to find a whale suited to the experiment.

The team said it needed a “Goldilocks” whale — one big enough to be towed out to sea and attract wildlife but small enough to fit into a shipping container.

“I get some strange requests in my job, and this is well up there with them,” said Dr Andrew Brownlow, director of SMASS.

“It seems a little weird that we agreed to do this but compared to just being binned along with the waste of the north-east of Scotland it’s actually brilliant.”

Dr Brownlow said he was looking forward to finding out what Fogle and his team uncover.

A boat dragging the dead whale left from the north coast of Devon on Friday and will travel hundreds of miles up between the east coast of Ireland and the coast of Wales in the coming days.

While host Fogle was remaining tight-lipped about the project, calling it a “top secret mission”, he said it is the “most exciting and ambitious thing” he’s ever done.

The cold temperature of the Irish Sea makes it a prime breeding ground for seals, a main species of prey for the great white shark.

As such, it would be possible for the predators to live in Irish and British waters, though there is, as of yet, no hard evidence proving their presence.

Some sightings have been reported, however, which experts describe as “credible” and the tooth of a great white shark was also found embedded in some creel rope which had been submerged in the Irish Sea off the coast of Britain.

While marine experts say it is unlikely the project will result in the discovery of any great white sharks, they said if the predators are going to appear for anything, it will be the whale carcass.

Footage from the expedition is due to air on ITV in September.

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