A local man captured a rare sighting of a basking shark swimming just meters from the shore of Achill Island’s beautiful Keem Bay.
Local man Graham Sweeney was strolling in the bay when he noticed that he was joined by the shark enjoying a leisurely swim through the bay and taking in the sights for himself.
Basking sharks are the second largest living fish in the world and the largest fish in the North Atlantic. They are also one of just three of the plankton-eating sharks in the world, making it safe enough to be in the water with them, but we’re still not sure that we’d fancy it.
This young shark is now, unfortunately, in the minority in Irish waters, although they were once in great abundance around Achill Island.
According to Sean Molloy, Manager of Achill Tourism, almost 10,000 were caught between the 1950s and 1980s, and in 1984, fishing for the basking shark ceased completely due to its dwindling population.
The Irish Basking Shark Project is an amalgamation of research studies on the shark based in Ireland in the hope of developing a basking shark research and visitor center. Those involved in the project believe that basking sharks could be making a return to the west Irish coastline with US shark expert Dr. Pete Klimley saying that Malin Head has great potential to become a “shark park.”
"I don't think people in Ireland really understand what a jewel they have ... I don't believe there's anywhere else in the world where you could see that," he told the Independent.ie.
Keem Bay is a signature discovery point on the Wild Atlantic Way and, with the addition of basking sharks, it makes the site a must-see.