The surfers had brought a GoPro camera to video their wave-riding exploits, which came in handy to capture their encounter with as many as 20 of the giant marine wildlife on Saturday afternoon (2 May).
“They were quite slow and peaceful, and they just came towards us and cruised past,” says Tom Gillespie, one of the four and who recorded the footage.
“We just tried to make sure we didn’t look like plankton.”
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) suggests that sightings of basking sharks in recent weeks indicate there could be “hundreds of animals” in a hotspot between Clare and the Aran Islands.
But while such large groupings are unusual, they are not unprecedented, according to the IWDG’s sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.
“As we are still less than mid-way through the shark season, it’s a little premature to be calling this a record year for sharks,” he said. “Better to wait till the end of the season when we can review all the sightings data and reflect on how good a season this has been the planet’s second biggest fish.”
Despite their fearsome size, basking sharks feed only on plankton and pose no threat to humans.
But that should not serve as any encouragement to take a dip while as social distancing measures remain in place.