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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Amorous Sharks “Breaching” in the West Coast Waters of Scotland

by Ihor Cap
Some 21 shark species are known to swim the British coastal waters. However, when it comes to amorous basking sharks, recent studies have shown they tend to swim the shores of Scotland four times more than the UK waters. They slowly surf the west coast shores in search of food and a mate, especially around the outer Firth of Clyde. Other recently confirmed hotspots are located in Gunna Sound, between Coll and Tiree, and nearby the islet of Hyskeir, southwest of Canna. Come summer time and sharks as long as 33 feet (10 meters) ‘bask’ the surface of the warm waters feeding on plankton with their mouths wide open. A single ‘basker’ filter’s as much as 1.5 million litres (330,000 gallons) of water through its gills. This dark slaty grey to black fish is sometimes mistaken for a second fish following the other since both the dorsal and tail fins stick out of the water at the same time.

Basking Shark Photo by Chris Gotschalk at Wikimedia Commons
Jet-skiers, speedboats and other boaters must be especially careful this time of year not just because the sharks are feeding along the surface but also because this is their mating season. Basking sharks are loners, but come courting season and a hundred of them can appear in these plentiful waters. What makes basking sharks unusual around this time is their courtship behavior. The nose of one love struck shark follows the tail of the other shark or they may swim next to each other. Sometimes, they lunge vertically out of the water also known as “breaching.” Being the second largest fish in the world, it is easy to see why they are often mistaken for whales.

Shark Breach photo taken from YouTube video Flying Shark: Great White Breaches Off South Africa's Coast
Little is known about these creatures and their behavior. Recent evidence shows that one shark can give birth to as many as six young live ones. Also, they take a long time to mature so the Scottish government has taken measures to protect them, especially around the identified hotspot areas. You can read more about these amazing creatures and their unusual behaviors by visiting the sites mentioned below.

Author Information:
Ihor Cap is a Web Author and Dad.   

Breaching Basking Sharks | World's Weirdest

Sharks in British Seas – 2009 Simon Spear/Richard Peirce/Elasmo Films

Basking shark feeding in the UK 2010

Main Reference:
Basking Sharks at (Used as main reference for my article)

Sharks swim Closer to Extinction 

Additional Readings About Amorous Basking Sharks:
Sharks head west to look for mate at

Experts basking in shark find 

Nature’’s Top 40: No.9 Basking Sharks