Basking sharks have been spotted on many of Kilda Cruises voyages to St Kilda over the years, but we have definitely seen a slight increase in thier numbers this season. According to 'Basking Shark Scotland' via Twitter, they aren't suprised by this fact as there is a large plankton bloom out that way just now, but they did find it interesting that we had noted a general increase in sightings this year.
These sharks are quite unique in the way that they cruise slowly along the surface of the water. They can sometimes be mistaken for two sharks following each other, due to their prominent dorsal fin and the top of its tail fin showing above the surface at the same time. As the basking shark feeds with its mouth wide open, the rounded tip of its snout may also show above the water.
Basking Sharks are the second largest fish in the world growing up to an impressive 10m (33ft) long! They are fish of open waters, but move closer to shores in summer, when they can be seen 'basking' at the surface, feeding with their huge mouths wide open. Unlike Jaws, Baskers have no teeth, and their enormous bodies are quite astoundingly nourished entirely by plankton.
Below we have some footage of a smaller, most likely younger, Basking Shark....
...and a much, MUCH, bigger one! Both clips courtesey of crew member Malcolm Campbell.
'Scottish National Heritage' (2015) available [online] at: http://www.snh.gov.uk/about-scotlands-nature/species/fish/sea-fish/basking-sharks/