Video shows storm-hit basking shark 15ft from Scottish beach


A VIDEO shows the world’s second-largest shark battling storm force waves just a few metres from a Scottish beach..

The footage shows a basking shark – which can grow up to 40ft long, weighing up to 5 tonnes – trapped in the high winds and strong currents caused by Storm Frank just days ago.

Basking sharks are regular visitors to the west coast of Scotland in the summer months, when they are usually spotted far out at sea, trawling the water for plankton with their huge mouths.

But it is rare for one of the creatures to come so close to the shore.

The footage shows one of the sharks – often called “gentle giants” because of their placid nature – just 15ft from the shore of Skelmorlie, North Ayrshire, last Wednesday.

In the video the shark can clearly be seen struggling to escape the harsh currents whipped up in Scottish waters by Storm Frank.

The footage was taken by local resident Scott Stewart, 27, who rushed down to the shore to spot the animal after seeing a photo of it on Facebook.

He said: “It did look like it was struggling to get away from the shore.

“I was a bit concerned as to why it was further into the coast than they usually would be.

“It was quite a sight – the video footage doesn’t do it justice – it was massive. It appeared to be struggling with the weather conditions, and was slowly moving along the bay.

“We followed it for around half an hour to make sure it kept away from the rocks, and it moved around 600 yards along the coastline.

The shark caught in the tide
The shark caught in the tide

“We thought it might have been tangled at first, and we followed it till it got to the sandy bay area away from the rocks.”

Dr Philip Cowie of the Field Studies Centre, said: “It is an unusual sighting for this time of year, and surprising.

“I am guessing there may not be that much zooplankton about with the poor water visibility, so there is not much feeding; it normally would be deeper.

“It looks like a big adult. You can see it is really shifting to try to get back out to sea and deeper water.

“It wouldn’t be feeding in this area normally – you can see the amount of sediment that is being churned up by the waves and this would be a real issue in terms of clogging its gill rakers.

“The closest I have seen basking sharks was in Kames Bay, Millport, a couple of metres off the rocks but it was still in deeper water.

“So it could be a healthy shark that has strayed close to shore and then is battling the unusually big swell – or, possibly, not that healthy and struggling.

“Hopefully it is just a healthy overwintering adult still finding enough food in the Clyde.”