I have always wanted to see a Basking shark up close as it makes its slow way just under the sea’s surface, collecting plankton and other little morsels food through its gaping mouth. They are a common sight off the west coast of Britain in summer and have become quite a tourist attraction. However a conservation group is calling for marine reserves to be set up along the British coastline to help save basking sharks from overzealous sightseers.
The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is reacting to a surge in sightings of the giant fish (the second largest in the world) which have led to a number of the creatures being maimed and killed. One shark was reported to have died last week after being caught in nets and another had two fins sliced off by a speedboat propeller as crowds headed out to sea following sightings off the Cornish coast.
Richard Harrington, a spokesman for the MCS, said: "This year we have had a particularly large number of sightings and the species is suffering from its new status as a tourist attraction. We have received reports of sharks being surrounded by speedboats, or approached too close. Collisions with boats are not unusual, as a feeding shark will not necessarily take evasive action. We would like to establish a network of highly protected marine reserves up and down the coastline to help put a stop to these incidents."
There is only one fully protected area in British waters, in the Bristol Channel. The proposed controlled areas would hopefully protect the sharks and other large marine wildlife, including dolphins and leatherback turtles. Among the areas likely to be designated are the Cornish coast, the Isle of Man and the Western Isles.
Perhaps I will be content with film footage of the Basking instead.