Basking in Glory!

By Laura Evans

The second largest fish in the world; the Basking shark visited Welsh waters this last summer much to the delight of our Wildlife Trust Living Seas Team, based at the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre (CBMWC), Ceredigion.

Basking sharks get their name from the way they feed at the surface of the water, looking as if they are “basking” in the sun. Though they can grow up to eight meters (26ft), these ocean giants are filter feeders, opening their mouth up to a metre wide and filtering plankton from the water!

Basking sharks are typically seen in UK waters between May and October each year. Our Living Seas Team haven’t documented a sighting of a basking shark since August 2015 but last summer three were spotted in Cardigan Bay! During an all-day boat survey on 19th July volunteers from CBMWC spotted a two metre (7ft) long, juvenile basking shark swimming just under the surface. Two more sharks were spotted in New Quay Bay, Ceredigion by volunteers on land based surveys on 2nd August and 19th September 2018.

As you can imagine the team were very excited on all three occasions, however basking sharks weren’t the only unusual sighting recorded during our Living Seas work this year. An otter was spotted swimming past New Quay harbour wall on two days in September, the only otter to ever be recorded on our marine surveys. The Living Seas team at CBMWC conduct vital marine monitoring work throughout the year and post daily sightings updates on our websites and social media.

Image Copyright: JP Trenque