Monday, June 11, 2007

Basking Sharks!!!

There were a dozen or so basking sharks off Sennen on Saturday and I was lucky enough to be out there snorkelling with them. I was gobsmacked to be in the water with a five metre long fish. I cannot describe how beautiful this enormous black fish was with its gaping white mouth, swimming behind it I could see right through its gill slits and see clear water on the other side. My grateful thanks to the very nice young lady who let me and my friends borrow her canoe so that we could paddle out to see them.

On Sunday we were at Porthcurno and there was another one (or one of same ones) cruising around. I managed to scramble up onto the rocky shoulder on the left of the main beach just as the shark swept in shore, past the gawping surfers and followed by a couple of chaps on sea kayaks who couldn't believe their luck. You can see that the shark is roughly twice the length of the kayaks!

A quick marine biological point to mention: Even though I came within a couple of meters of one of the sharks it is actually an offence to "recklessly disturb a place of rest or shelter of a protected animal or a nest site. In the case of cetacea (whales, dolphins) and the basking shark, intentional or reckless disturbance anywhere will be an offence". Whilst I respect conservation legislation I don't respect the government's weak attempt at it at all and I was also confident that I was not disturbing the animal in question. The sharks are large and very powerful and have incredibly rough and abrasive skin which will take you own off if they come into contact so it is wise to not try and cuddle them if you find yourself in the position I was in. Although people on canoes and surfboards present little threat to these creatures people in power boats definitely represent an "intentional or reckless disturbance" and are likely to disturb their feeding and scare them away, ruining the experience for others.

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