Fish of the Week – Basking Shark

I’m currently writing this from the comfort of a good friends house, miles away from Norfolk, in the sunny county of Cornwall recovering from a day of 120m slippy slides, BBQ-ing and general horseplay. For those of you not in the know, Cornwall is nestled away in the south-west of England and borders the Irish sea as well as Devon. It’s a popular holiday destination thanks to its warm climes and rugged charm and the lures of a warm pasty are self explanatory.

The fresh sea air and the suns mellow rays have inspired me to speak of one of Cornwall’s most impressive sights, the basking shark. Curently the worlds second largest fish behind the whale shark can be found in all the worlds teperate oceans and has a diet that is made up primarily of zoo plankton. So there’s no need to say your prayers if you see one of these beauties roll out of the ethereal murk.

The first thing you would notice is the basking sharks massive mouth which is a handy adaptation to catch as many bits of tiny plankton as possible. Basking sharks are a migrating species and are believed to overwinter in deep waters. They may occur in either small schools or alone and some have been seen swimming nose to tail in circles in what may be a form of mating behaviour.

Due to it’s large size, the heffers don’t really have many natural predators however reports of Killer whale attacking basking shark have been recorded of the coast of California and New Zealand. Of course humans have to have their say and historically the basking shark was a staple of many fisheries due to its slow swimming speed, unaggressive nature and previously abundant numbers. Shark fin soup is the reason why they are still fished today and cartilage is used in some form in Chinese medicine.

All in all a cool fish. Big, docile and apparently enjoys the presence of diver and has been known to circle or follow divers.

As always if you have any fish that you think might interest me or anyone else out there, please let me know in the comments section and it will be got round to in my own sweet time. Until next time.

Stay narked, Rob

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