Three giant basking sharks have been recorded off the island of Mull – in one of the earliest ever sightings of Britain’s largest fish in Scottish waters.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust said the surprise record came from a motor vessel cruising off the south of Mull.
It was logged by the Elkington family – who have previously recorded other accepted sightings – who said they were “definite” that they saw three basking sharks.
“Was amazing. We stroked their fins. Open mouths just cruising along,” they wrote in their report.
A spokeswoman for HWDT said:”This is exciting as basking sharks are more commonly seen later in the year, around July and August. We are in the process of verifying the account as it seems very early – though there have been reports of basking sharks off Ireland already too.”
Despite their size, surprisingly little is known about the life history of the world’s second biggest fish, partly because of the difficulty of conducting field research on an animal which spends most of its life out of sight, deep underwater.
However they can be seen from May until late October along the west coast of the UK.
Scientists from Scottish Natural Heritage and the University of Exeter have previously attached satellite tracking tags to dozens of basking sharks in the Inner Hebrides, as part of a £147,000 project.