Late spring and early summer brings oceanic visitors to temperate shores. Here in Ireland, we have recently enjoyed some great early summer weather and the calm seas and plentiful plankton have allowed numerous encounters with Basking Sharks. These are the second largest fish in the sea – only the tropical water Whale shark is larger. Despite their large size (6-8 metres), they feed only on plankton and small fish, and it is this pursuit of food that brings them close to Irish and British coasts. Every year is different, so there is always an element of surprise and wonder when we are given an opportunity of a close encounter.
Along the Cork coast here in Ireland, there have been reports of hundreds of sharks seen by fishermen, sailors and divers. On hearing that there were several sharks visible from shore in Baltimore, I took a drive down and arrived late in the day to meet with fellow underwater photographers who had great luck in snorkelling with these gentle giants.
The sharks were clearly visible from the beacon in Baltimore, so I donned freediving gear and headed out, hoping for the best. They seems quite leisurely late in the day, no doubt with full bellies of plankton soup, but are still a challenge to get near and keep up. Despite the short encounters, you are left in awe of their size and grace in the water, and savour such a special moment in the sea.