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Angler basks in glory as shark encounter goes viral

AN angler got more than he bargained for when he went out fishing for a lightweight tope shark and ended up being "stalked" by a two-ton basking shark.

Graham Smith managed to capture his brush with the massive shark off the coast of Donegal on an underwater video camera.

And footage of his close encounter with the second largest fish in the sea has become a YouTube hit.

The 36-year-old married father-of-three from Culdaff, Co Donegal, was hoping to land a tope shark when he set out at Tullagh Bay in the Inishowen Peninsula during last week's heatwave.

But instead of landing a tope – which typically measure less than two metres long and weigh less than a hundred pounds – he encountered a school of basking sharks, that can weigh up to 40 tonnes each.

"There were five of them and they were swimming around and they came closer and closer," he told the Irish Independent.

"But when I was swapping my position, one of the them started following me," he said.

Although basking sharks are not normally aggressive, he was wary of an attack as the shark swam about two feet away, he added.

"At first I thought he'd have a go at me. But I just paddled along and he kept following," said Mr Smith.

"He was so close he was practically touching the camera," he said

But the keen angler soon realised that the fish wasn't interested in him so much as the slipstream of his kayak which provided the shark with a steady stream of plankton and other food to feed on.

"There have been other close encounters," said Mr Smith, who is a member of the Irish Kayak Angling club.

"But I think he was just being friendly," he added.

Irish Independent