Saturday 18 November 2017

WATCH: Kayakers meet world's second-largest sharks off Kerry coast

Basking Shark season

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

A small and lucky band of kayakers has captured stunning, close-up footage of basking sharks near the Blasket Islands.

The kayakers, led by Noel O'Leary of Irish Adventures (irishadventures.net), encountered the animals on the Wild Atlantic Way just last week.

"It was an unreal day. We saw minke whales, Risso dolphins - which are rarely spotted around Ireland - and puffins, as well as five basking sharks," he says.

"They are amazing animals to watch. You see them coming towards you, but you know they are harmless. They duck a few inches to go under the boat. There is no extra movement. You sit still, and they just pop back up the other side."

Basking shark are the world's second-largest fish (after whale sharks), and can be seen feeding off the Irish coast from April to August.

Despite growing up to 10m in length, however, they are docile - basking sharks literally have no teeth, and rarely pose any danger to humans.

Water-users should respect the animals and keep their distance, of course, as the animals carry huge power in their massive tails.

Once fished with abundance off the west coast for their oil, basking sharks are currently listed by the ICUN as endangered in Irish waters.

Some believe that with proper conservation, however, they could survive, thrive and even become a unique wildlife tourist attraction.

Got any basking shark footage or photos to share?

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.

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