DCSIMG

Basking shark boom makes waves around Hebrides

THE number of basking sharks around the Hebrides has more than doubled in the past five years, research has shown.

Basking shark boom makes waves around Hebrides

THE number of basking sharks around the Hebrides has more than doubled in the past five years, research has shown.

The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust's research suggests their numbers have risen from fewer than 100 in 2003 to 250 last year.

Particular hot spots are the west coast of Mull, the sea around the islands of Tiree and Coll and the Small Isles.

The season for spotting basking sharks usually runs from about May until autumn and they have already been spotted this year.

Susannah Calderan, biodiversity officer for the trust, thinks it could be due to an increase in food supply, or due to greater protection afforded the animals in recent years.

"We have a good population of basking sharks that seem to be thriving and this is a really good time to be seeing them.

"We think they are on the increase but it's difficult to say if it's a long-term trend or a blip.

"There is clearly good food around here for them. Also, until recently they were fished for. They are protected now, so some population recovery may be going on."

They are world's second largest fish after the whale shark, growing to 36ft long.

PROFILE

HE IS well known in angling circles but eccentric "shark hunter" Zyg Gregorek came to national attention last year when he pledged to catch a great white shark that had been pictured off the coast of Cornwall at the height of the tourist season.

HE IS well known in angling circles but eccentric "shark hunter" Zyg Gregorek came to national attention last year when he pledged to catch a great white shark that had been pictured off the coast of Cornwall at the height of the tourist season.

"I've been fishing for these monsters off Cornwall for ten years because I know they are there," he told one newspaper.

"It's only a matter of time before I catch this fish."

His enthusiasm may have been dampened when it turned out the picture was a fake – the shark had actually been photographed off the coast of South Africa.

Mr Gregorek, variously described as a Polish fisherman, angling club owner and winemaker, also claims to speak three languages.

 
 
 

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