Basking Shark Soup along the South coast! Update

14th Jun 2007 Report update VI: 13 June

Upwards of 20 basking sharks were reported by whale watch operator Colin Barnes in several locations between High Island and Galley Head. It will be interesting to see if the change in the settled weather on 14/06/07 and the big seas will break up the plankton, and if it does, whether this will cause the basking sharks to disperse, as they search further afield for their primary food source. We'll keep you posted.


Report update V: 11 June

Unusually large numbers of basking sharks which have been seen daily now for the best part of two weeks along vast stretches of the Cork coastline show little sign of leaving. On eight consecutive days 3rd-10th June, William Helps & Rhona Cumming have observed c5-6 basking sharks just outside the entrance to Mill Cove, Nr. Rosscarbery. On 11th June we caught up with a minimum of 10 sharks between Rosscarbery to Clogha Head/Long Strand area.



Basking shark, Long Strand, 110607 © Padraig Whooley, IWDG

As similar sightings are being replicated in many areas, it is possible that there are currently hundreds, if not more, of these giants currently in our inshore waters between Waterford and Kerry, although our observers tell us they have now left the Slea Head area.

During our two hour interaction with them, we counted at least two full breaches. As this is a behaviour which we observed out on Cape Clear last weekend during the IWDG Whale watching course, and indeed which William has observed almost daily over the past week, it does raise the question as to just how rare this behavior is. Prior to this recent episode we were all strongly of the impression that it was indeed rare for basking sharks to breach. Based on what we've observed in the past week, we're inclined to disagree.

Report update IV: 10 June

While Basking sharks may now have left the Slea Head area of Kerry, they remained in the same West Cork haunts throughout the weekend. Right up to Sunday evening as many as 12 of them were counted between Long Strand and Rosscarbery area, with many other reports of more throughout Co. Cork

Basking shark Cork Hbr. 080607 © Conor Ryan

Report update III: 8th June

Basking shark reports are still being reported along the South coast faster than we can process them. This is without question the most intense period for sightings of this species that any of us involved in Marine conservation can recall. It seems that there is hardly a headland, bay or cove between Ardmore Head in Waterford and Slea Head in Kerry, where this species has not been observed in recent days.

IWDG members took this opportunity to snorkel among them on 7th & 8th June at Mill Cove, West Cork and Cork harbour, with a view to obtaining underwater footage of their feeding on plankton. The results were quite spectacular.

Basking shark Cork Hbr. 080607 © Conor Ryan

We advise caution and all the normal water safety procedures if people do decide to swim with these giants. But please remember that they are feeding, and will not appreciate being touched. So as always, let the animals approach you and bear in mind that these are the 2nd largest fish on the planet and are not here for our entertainment.

At Mill Cove on 8/06/07 they seemed to be far more active in the water than on the previous day, with a lot of faster tail movements and some breaching from one individual, and this apparent change in behaviour, certainly influenced the nature of our interaction with them.

Report update II: 7th June

At 07:40 Ronald Randall reported c17 basking sharks between Carilsle and Camden Forts in Cork harb