Displaying items by tag: basking sharks
How many basking sharks have reclaimed the waters off the South and West Coasts? “We don’t really know” is the honest answer from the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group.
But after a video of surfers in a close encounter with a school of the marine wildlife giants went viral last week, it’s become clear that the numbers — potentially into the thousands — are remarkable, if not unusual.
Getting a complete picture, however, “would require something like an aerial survey”, says IWDG sightings officer Pádraig Whooley.
In the meantime, their close proximity to the shore to feed on zooplankton presents “a fantastic opportunity for the members of the public to observe and record their observations to the IWDG, and thus make a real contribution to marine conservation”.
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.
Local tourist officials have recorded almost daily sightings of the 20-plus-foot basking shark in the waters of Keem Bay over the last month.
And has word of got out, visitor numbers on the Co Mayo island are growing among those hoping to get a glimpse of the gargantuan fish.
The second biggest fish in the seas behind the whale shark — and the largest in the North Atlantic — basking sharks are regulars in Irish waters.
Indeed, number of the gentle marine wildlife giants have reached such figures that experts have referred to the waters off the West Coast in the summer months as a ‘shark ark’.
Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.
"You could see the inside of their huge mouths very clearly under the water as they were feeding," Power told RTÉ News of the three-hour breakfast. "They swam close to the rocks going in circles. It was incredible."
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) reports that another sighting was made at the same time off Slea Head in Co Kerry – adding to a list of inshore sightings along the South West coast since 31 March, when the first basking shark spotting of 2016 was reported off West Cork.
And the sheer size of this group is surely a boost for the 'shark park' initiative mooted for the Wild Atlantic Way last summer.
VIDEO: A close encounter with basking sharks off the Clare coast.https://t.co/d3ozNFg8RI— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 12, 2016
Meanwhile, some no less impressive sights have been seen of Donegal, new video shows basking sharks - the second biggest fish in the sea - breaching off Malin Head.
Bren Whelan of Wild Atlantic Way Climbing told Independent Travel that it's been an "outstanding week" for marine wildlife watching on the North Coast, saying he himself had witnessed "over 300" basking shark breaches.
Basking sharks have been seen in big numbers the area all month long, with 15 spotted during the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group's Whale Watch Ireland 2015 event on the afternoon of 23 August alone.
The second largest fish in the sea are a regular summer sight off Ireland's coasts, particularly in Donegal, Mayo and Kerry – all prime spots along the western coastal tourism route initiative.
Indeed, Ireland is one of the best places in the world to see these magnificent examples of marine wildlife, says Emmett Johnston of the Irish Basking Shark Study Group.
And according to Dr Pete 'Hammerhead' Klimley, sites like Malin Head could be perfect as 'shark park' reserves to protect a species that may only number a few thousand worldwide, despite recently placing third in a list of the most unusual sharks.
Certainly such a shark park reserve would afford protections to help avoid the shocking harassment of marine life exhibited by two louts videoed 'surfing' a whale shark recently.
According to the Irish Mirror, calls have been made for the men involved in the sickening stunt to be charged for their abuse of the gentle giant, the largest fish in the world's oceans.
#MarineWildlife - Following Friday's look back at the basking shark that surprised bathers off Cape Clear last summer, Independent.ie brings us this remarkable up-close video of the ocean giants returning to the Kerry coast for the warmer months.
The footage was captured near Dingle by sea kayaker Noel O'Leary, who said: "I’ve seen the odd minke whale, but to see a shark that's bigger than the kayak so close is quite amazing."
But it wasn't the only surprising sight around Ireland's coast as of late, as Her.ie reports on a 'surfing seal' in Dungarvan.
Apparently, the seal has become somewhat of a local celebrity after taking a liking to an abandoned surfboard at the mouth of the Colligan river.
Bridget Healy spotted two of the ocean's second-largest fish from the shore at Ardfield, near Clonakilty in West Cork last Monday 9 March – a little earlier than they usually appear.
But it's still some time off their peak numbers expected between May and June, when the gentle giants might come closer to the shore like one did in Cork Harbour last summer.
Ireland's Wildlife has more on the story HERE.
#MarineWildlife - Bathers enjoying yesterday's fine weather in Cork Harbour got up close and personal with a massive basking shark, as some amazing photos on TheJournal.ie and video on Facebook attest.
Yet as regular readers of Afloat.ie know very well, people had nothing to fear from the giant fish as it swam among them - as its diet consists solely of plankton.
The remarkable scene comes just says after a group of at least 12 fin whales was spotted in the Celtic Sea off Pembrokeshire from a ferry crossing from France to Ireland - a possible indicator that the gentle giants might be feeding in the area year-round, according to BBC News.
On a similar note, the Daily Telegraph has a gallery of some of Kent photographer Terry Whittaker's images of dolphins at play and interacting with humans around Britain and Ireland.
But it was a different story off Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles earlier this week, as Mail Online reports, as a group of paddleboarders were joined by what appeared to be a great while shark - the ocean's deadliest predator.
"Once you see it, your knees kind of go weak," said Bo Bridges, who captured some scary close-up images of the dangerous fish with a drone-mounted camera.
RTÉ News reports that the footage captured by the team from the Irish Basking Shark Project, who affixed their camera to the giant six-metre shark off Malin Head last month.
Team spokesperson Emmett Johnston remarked on the basking shark bonanza off Donegal at present, commenting that the research "haven't seen sharks in such good numbers since 2010".
But he was never in any real danger as despite their fearsome appearance, the gentle giants live on a diet of plankton.