Just 20 miles from Whitehaven is one of the best places in the world to see
40 tonne monster Basking Sharks. Cruising slowly up and down the Irish Sea are
these gentle giants.
The sharks seem to be congregating around the Isle of Man.
Basking sharks are found around the west coast of Scotland, south west Ireland and as far east as Weymouth on the English south coast.
Basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) are the second largest fishes in the world. These gentle giants have a bluish-grey skin which can sometimes be dark brown or black and can grow up to 11m (33 feet) long and can weigh over 40 tonnes.
They have enormous gill clefts which almost completely encircle their neck. Gill clefts harbour long bristles known as gill rakers which are used by basking sharks to filter vast quantities of sea water in their quest for the microscopic plankton they eat. They are often seen lying motionless at the surface of the water as if basking in the sun, hence their common name - basking sharks. Do not attempt to touch the sharks as they are likely to become aggressive. Current legislation also prohibits disturbing and hunting of basking sharks. Basking sharks are very docile and are of little danger to man unless they collide with a boat, in which case their huge size can sink a fishing vessel. There have been reports of boats unlucky enough to be underneath a shark when it jumps clear of the water, with dire consequences. The jumping behaviour is thought to be an effort to remove ecto-parasites such as lampreys and copepods from the skin and gills. *By the way, the average bank deposit per head of population on the Isle of Man is £8 million. Because the isle is an international tax haven where the rich and offshore companies register their interests as a way of avoiding paying taxes. The Islands have now been blamed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for harming trade and investment. So called Brass Plate companies can set up in the Isle for Man for as little as £300 and in return can be except from income and withholding taxes. Laws on the Isle of Man are read out on a grassy hill call;ed Tynwald in a ceremony that goes back to the isle's Viking origins. Until the 1990's they retained birching and a nominal right to shoot Scotsmen on sight!
Suggestion: The Basking Shark Society, Cronk Mooar, Curragh Rd, St. John's, Isle of Man, IM4 3LN. Tel: (01624) 801207 and ask for more information.