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  1. ITV Report

Basking sharks spotted off coast of Isle of Man prompts warning from experts

A basking shark caught on camera swimming off the coast of the island Photo: Adventurous Experiences, Facebook

The Isle of Man Government are reminding people who spot animals protected under the Wildlife Act 1990 to be responsible and respectful.

It follows recent sightings of basking sharks, one of the species protected by the Act.

Often referred to locally as ‘gentle giants’, basking sharks are regular visitors to the waters surrounding the Isle of Man, usually between May and mid-August.

They are the second biggest fish in the world, with the biggest ever found measuring 13.72 metres long – the length of a double decker bus.

Feeding on plankton, they use a special technique known as “passive feeding.” This means that the basking shark swims with its mouth open, and the plankton will become trapped in the gill rakers as the water passes over the gills.

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As well as basking sharks, a number of other species are protected under the Wildlife Act, such as: wild birds and their eggs, bats, crickets, frogs, dolphins, lizards, and seals.

These and other species are afforded special protection for a number of reasons such as their rarity, conservation status, vulnerability or because the Island is party to an international agreement to protect them.

For basking sharks in particular there is the Basking Shark Code of Conduct from the Shark Trust which offers helpful advice.

A basking shark's tail can kill humans instantly if startled Credit: Manx Basking Shark Watch, Facebook

With the warm weather and the appearance of basking sharks, some may be tempted to try and get close to these animals, however it is an offence to deliberately disturb protected species. We’re not out to spoil anyone’s enjoyment – but the message is clear where protected animals are concerned: be respectful and admire from a safe distance taking every care not to disturb them.

– Mark Kerruish, IOM Police Wildlife Crime Officer