Every summer basking sharks are sighted off the west coast, and you may see them on any of our boat trips. These huge fish are the third largest fish in the sea. In recent years there has been a huge increase in sightings off the west coast of Scotland.
They feed on plankton, and it is during feeding that they are seen at the surface during the summer months, and from this they derive their name. They disappear at other times of the year, and where they go had been a mystery! Recent scientific studies using miniaturised computers attached to the shark's fin, found that they actually stay in British waters throughout the winter but head for deep water. They hold the record for the broadest foraging range of any shark, and make regular vertical dives to a depth of up to 1000 metres, following vertical layers of plankton in the water column.
One tagged shark was found to have travelled from the English Channel to the west coast of Scotland in 2½ months. The results of the research showed that Basking Sharks are indeed truly British sharks, and throughout the entire year never leave our coastal waters.
The harmless basking shark can be readily differentiated from our other big shark, the porbeagle shark, as you are likely to see the nose, dorsal fin and tail at the surface at the same time.