Shark Week: Paddle boarders share epic encounter off Waterford coast
Basking in glory
Basking shark season is well and truly underway in Waterford, as this GoPro footage from Ardmore Adventures attests.
The world's second-largest fish, measuring up to 10m in length, can be spotted feeding off the Irish coast between April and August - and a plankton bloom has led to some amazing encounters in Waterford last week.
The above footage was filmed by Ronan Cunningham, an outdoor instructor with Ardmore Adventures, who managed not only to record the animal while paddle-boarding at Ram Head last week... but to fulfill a lifelong ambition, too.
"it was just going back and forth across the bay, so I got the camera out," he says.
"It's been on my bucket list to get in and swim with basking shark for ages, and we managed to do that. We got into the water to swim with them for a while!"
The basking sharks encountered off Ram Head are part of a pod that has been tracked from Morocco by the Isle of Wight-based Manx Basking Shark Watch, and filmed from the air last week by photographer James McCarthy, who chanced on the animals while testing a drone at nearby Caliso Bay (below).
One of the sharks, a male nicknamed 'Flowrider', measures eight metres in length - almost twice the length of a typical paddle board.
Basking shark were also filmed from the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore last week, although local bathers needn't worry. Despite being the world's second-largest fish (only whale sharks are larger), they are docile, toothless and harmless to humans.
The fish are listed by the ICUN as endangered in the Northeast Atlantic, but conservationists believe their protection could help them not only to survive, but to thrive, and even become a tourist attraction.
We'd love to help get the word out on these amazing animals. Send your snaps to Independent.ie Travel via Facebook here, or email travel @ independent.ie.
Find out more about Ardmore Adventures here.