The north coast of Donegal is currently “teeming” with a record number of basking sharks, according to marine researchers.
More than 100 of the world’s second largest fish were tagged by the Irish Basking Shark Study Group off Dunaff and Malin Head within the past week.
This compares with 106 tagged during the entire season last year.
Malin Head was identified by the Irish Basking Shark Study Group last year as one of the top European “hotspots” for the sharks.
However, the numbers counted over a four-day period within the last week exceeded the group’s expectations. The group also believes that reported sightings of breaching whales off this coast may in fact be basking sharks.
The basking shark is not protected under Irish legislation through the Wildlife Act, although there is an EU moratorium on catching or landing the fish as a by-catch. It's protected in Britain, and there are plans to extend this legislation to Northern Irish waters.
It's believed that the sharks are active during winter and do not hibernate, as previously thought.
One shark tagged in the Isle of Man in 2007 and traced to Newfoundland, had travelled almost 10,000km in 82 days.
Sightings of basking sharks off Sligo, Mayo, Cork and Waterford have also been made in the last few days according to the group."