Endangered shark with massive mouth captured in video during rare sighting
A ranger in Scotland had a rare encounter with an endangered basking shark on Monday.
In a video shared by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), the shark can be seen opening and closing its massive mouth while feeding on zooplankton.
“Our St Kilda rangers are getting very close to a basking shark,” the organization tweeted on Monday. “If you encounter animals in the water, please follow the instructions of the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code and be extremely careful not to disturb the animals or endanger yourself.”
The video has received more than 3,000 views between Facebook and Twitter.
Craig Nisbet, the NTS ranger who spotted the shark, told the BBC he spotted the shark from Village Bay beach in St. Kilda. Wanting to record the shark on camera, he put on his snorkeling gear and proceeded to take a picture of the fish from a distance.
However, as he swam back to shore, Nisbet stopped near a buoy and watched the gentle creature swim towards him.
âI went back to earth, barely able to believe what I had just seen,â Nisbet said. âI washed my camera and uploaded my images and videos and was delighted with the images and footage I captured.â
He said the shark opening and closing its mouth was a sign it was feeding on zooplankton on the water.
Basking sharks are an endangered species. According to the Scottish Wildlife Trust, basking sharks were commercially hunted for their liver oil, which was used to make cosmetics, perfumes, lubricants and lamp oils. Several reports also indicate that their fins are in high demand in the shark fin trade, which is illegal in the US and UK.
As previously stated, basking sharks feed on plankton. In fact, their large mouths allow them to filter plankton from seawater.
Although these sharks are massive – they are considered the second largest fish in the ocean, behind the whale shark – they are mostly harmless to humans. As such, they don’t care about humans, which is why Nisbet was able to get so close. However, their skin is rough and could cause injury if a diver gets too close. Wildlife officials therefore encourage all swimmers, divers and fishermen to adhere to local guidelines when viewing marine life to avoid accidental injury.
Basking sharks can be found throughout arctic and temperate waters and can be seen near the coast in summer and early fall. Once September / October arrives, these gentle giants migrate to different parts of the ocean, so be on the lookout before they vanish for the winter.