Jaws drop as huge shark hauled in
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
THIS is the huge basking shark that was hauled into Kilkeel Harbour.
The carcass, measuring between 15-20ft and believed to be a juvenile, was unwittingly taken ashore by a Kilkeel-based fishing vessel.
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, which was reported to police on Thursday, February 28.
Relevant agencies have been contacted and enquiries are continuing.
Lesley Turner, an aquarist at the Exploris Centre and Aquarium, said basking sharks are common in the vicinity of the South Down coast. He said they are no threat to humans and live in these waters due to the abundance of their sole source of food - plankton.
“Basking sharks are fairly common in this area. I Don't know where the boat was fishing, but the Irish coast and around the Isle of Mann is a particular hot spot for basking sharks," he said.
“They can grow up to seven metres in length and are the second largest fish next to the whale shark, but they're totally harmless.
“There would be a few sighting of basking sharks along that coast every year.
“In fact, there's quite a few species of shark that would be local such as dogfish, tope and bull huss; there are dozens of shark species found in Irish waters."
Mr Turner said the shark would probably have been already dead when caught in the net.
He added that basking sharks are not destructive to fish stocks or people, so therefore no one would have reason to hunt them.
They are protected under European and UK law, so it is illegal to disturb or harass them.
Kilkeel councillor Henry Reilly confirmed the shark was brought in on a fishing net and said it wasn't an unusual occurrence to see basking sharks off the coast of the south Down town.
“There are basking sharks around here all the time. It wouldn't be common for them to be caught in fishing nets, but you see them off the Kilkeel coasts regularly," he said.
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