A Cork woman said she received the fright of her life when she bumped into a giant basking shark while kayaking off the west coast of Cork last week. 

Louise Barker said she had an encounter with a "curious" basking shark while kayaking on Tuesday, May 23. 

Had a little bump from a curious basking shark off the west Cork coast yesterday.

What a stunning creature pic.twitter.com/0NdWZUPRJX

— Louise Barker (@louisecbarker) May 23, 2023

Cork TD Christopher O'Sullivan also uploaded a recent encounter with the sharks on his Instagram account after spotting two of them near Courtmacsherry in West Cork. 

"Basking sharks are a joy to spend time with," O'Sullivan said.

"No video clip could ever do justice to their true size. They are giants." 

O'Sullivan saw the two sharks during a whale-watching tour last week. 

Basking sharks are relatively common sights in Irish waters in May and June and generally pose no risks to humans. 

However, the Irish Basking Shark Group has issued guidelines for swimmers and sailors who encounter the gentle giants over the coming weeks. 

The group has urged people to maintain their distance from the sharks and avoid touching the creatures, while it has also advised people to refrain from using flash photography as it can startle the sharks. 

The group also reminded people that if a basking shark is spotted near the surface, then there are likely several more sharks swimming below the surface. 

It also advised kayak and boat operators to reduce speed if they spot a basking shark and to avoid sudden changes in direction. 

Anyone who sees a basking shark in Irish waters is additionally encouraged to report the sighting. 

"Each time a basking shark is sighted, you have the unique opportunity to contribute important information about these animals," the Irish Basking Shark Group said in a post on Instagram.