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Project: Sharks on the Move

Logo fra Sharks on the move. Innholder prosjektnavnet og illustrasjon av tre haier oppå hverandre.
Period 01. oktober 2021 - 30. juni 2025
Financed by The Research Council of Norway
Partner(s) IMR, NIVA, UiT, UiO, NORCE, UMiami, CiBIO, UPorto, FDir, Runde AS
Projects is lead by Institute of Marine Research

"Sharks on the Move" is a collaborative research project funded by The Research Council of Norway between 2021-2025. It aims to understand the movement behaviour and space-use in migratory sharks to inform ecosystem-based management in Norwegian waters and beyond in times of global change.

In 2023 we hope to satellite tag basking sharks in June and July, and as we approach fall we also plan to tag porbeagle.

Our field work this season focusses on the coastal areas around Loften-Vesterålen, but we are also keeping our eyes open for other locations where they aggregate along the Norwegian coast.

Status per June 21st: We have succesfully tagged six basling sharks this season

If you observe either of the two shark species, please contact us.

Current sighting:  Call the Shark Telephone +47 55238560 

Previous sightings: Register at Dugnad for Havet  or e-mail to listed contact persons.


Highlights from last years field season: 

Tagging a furious shark (Porbeagle)

Satellite tagging 8-metre sharks (Basking Shark)


Sharks play a key role as predators in the structure and functioning of marine communities. Three of the largest species in Norway, the basking shark, porbeagle and spurdog are considered endangered. However, some of the most fundamental and critical information about their distribution and the drivers of their occurrence are lacking.

We also know little about the overlap between their distribution with areas of intense human activities or in how far the sharks are potentially affected and especially vulnerable in these areas. Increased knowledge of the sharks’ potential habitats in an ecosystem under pressure from fisheries, coastal development and climate change is therefore critical to assessing their vulnerability to these factors.

The project’s objective is to strengthen our understanding of the environmental and ecological drivers of the present and projected distributions of these three shark species in Norwegian waters, using amongst others tagging studies and distribution modelling. We will investigate the effects of human activities by combining information on fishing and aquaculture activities with observed and modelled shark distributions.

The project aims to inform researchers and managers about factors that directly and indirectly affect the distribution of these sharks now and in the future, with a special focus on critical habitats, migration routes, climate change and interactions with fisheries and aquaculture. Identifying hotspots for potential conflicts is crucial for the sustainable management of these vulnerable sharks and their ecosystems, both today and in the light of projected climatic change.

Help us to spot the sharks and better understand their movements in Norwegian waters and beyond!

Register your observation here: Dugnad for Havet

Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus)

​​​​​​The Basking shark is one of the three shark species worldwide that feeds on plankton. After whale sharks, basking sharks are the largest fish in our ocean. They can grow up to 12 m in length. While the basking shark is not targeted by fisheries anymore, we know little on their basic biology or about potential impacts of other human activities including shipping, tourism, or climate change. The main season for observing basking sharks is summer, where they tend to feed on zooplankton in surface waters. Yet, it remains a mystery where they migrate in winter. To find out more about this fascinating creature, we are tagging basking sharks around Lofoten and Vesterålen.

Read more: Basking shark

Porbeagle (Lamna nasus)

​​​​​​​The porbeagle is related to the well-known white shark, but only grows up to 3 meters in length. Porbeagle feed on pelagic fish, such as blue whiting or saithe, as well as on squid-like species. Like tuna, the porbeagle also has red muscle which has an elevated temperature, allowing the shark to swim faster and further north than possible competitors. Fishing for porbeagle was originally banned in EU and Norwegian waters in 2007 (but it was partially reopened now again in 2023) and data collection became sparce. We therefore know little about their population dynamics and movement. Some individuals seem to be moving long distances, including one of ours, which we tagged in 2022 (stay tuned for results!). We are currently investigating, if the observed pattern only applies to a one or a few individuals, or if there are certain migration patterns with sex and age.

Read more: Porbeagle

Spurdog (Squalus acanthias)

​​​​​​​You might have encountered this about 1 m long shark in kelp forests around Jærkysten or a decade ago at your Fish & Chips diner. In Norway, spurdog inhabits waters inside and outside of the fjords along the southern and western Norwegian coast. It feeds on crab-like species as well as smaller fish and is bentho-pelagic, meaning that is likes the lower part of the water column. However, it prefers easy-to-catch food, and is therefore often bycaught or found sneaking into aquaculture pens. It is known to occur in larger groups, but we know still little about its movement behaviour and critical areas for its life-history such as breeding or nursery grounds. In this project, we want to know more about the vertical movement patterns of spurdog along the Norwegian coast and understand what their horizontal movement radius is and where and when they co-occur with fisheries and aquaculture installations.

Read more: Spiny dogfish