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Rare East Coast Sighting of Basking Shark in Dun Laoghaire

16th May 2012
Rare East Coast Sighting of Basking Shark in Dun Laoghaire

#MARINE WILDLIFE - The East Coast of Ireland was treated to a rare sight yesterday morning with the spotting of a basking shark at Dun Laoghaire.

According to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), the gentle giant was sighted by Ronan McLaughlin of the Naval Service vessel LE Ciara at the entrance to Dun Laoghaire Harbour - which may allow for the perfect opportunity to easily observe the visitor.

IWDG sightings co-ordinator Pádraig Whooley said: "So far 2012 has been another very good year for sightings of this 'honorary whale', with 78 validated sightings to date, almost all of which have come from the south and west coasts."

He added: "In recent years only between 1-5% of all basking shark sightings have been off the Irish East Coast, which is at odds with the fact that [the] nearby Isle of Man is considered to be one of the best sites to observe the planet’s second biggest shark species."

Basking sharks are protected under EU law, which makes it illegal to disturb or harass them.

As previously reported on, the UK's Shark Trust has published a code of conduct for anyone encountering basking sharks in British or Irish waters this summer.

Published in Marine Wildlife
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!