After being boosted by the recent heat wave, massive amounts of zooplankton is now attracting record numbers of basking sharks into British and Irish waters.

Last year, 26 basking sharks were reported from the most southerly headland of Cornwall during a 10 week long period. This year, 900 sightings have been recorded since the beginning of June.

basking shark Heat wave makes basking sharks head for northern shores

“Last year we had a really poor year because of the weather. But even though temperatures have obviously picked up, we never expected to see the sharks in such large numbers,” saysTom Hardy of Cornwall Wildlife Trust, coordinator of the south-west basking shark project.

Record breaking numbers of basking sharks are being reported from the other side of Irish Sea as well. In June alone, the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group reports having seen no less than 248 basking sharks.

“In a three-day period we tagged more than 100 sharks in just one bay in north
Donegal,” says Simon Berrow of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group. “You only ever see five or six of these creatures on the surface, which doesn’t reflect what’s going on under the water.”

From the Isle of Man, 400 sightings have been reported since early May.

‘”We saw a lot more in May than is usual and after a couple of quiet weeks sightings are picking up again,” said Fiona Gell, marine wildlife officer for the Isle of Man government.

Very little is known about the basking sharks, but the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group is currently carrying out a pioneering tagging project in hope of furthering our understanding of these basking giants. Simultaneously, the 47 wildlife trusts found across the UK, the Isle of Man and Alderney are working to identify basking shark hotspots.