Huge basking shark making waves at Achill Island's Keem Bay


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

19.27 17 May 2019


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A very special visitor has been making waves on the wild Atlantic Way in recent weeks.

A huge basking shark has been spotted in Achill Island’s Keem Bay almost every day for the past month.

Achill Tourism said there has been a big increase in people to making the trip to the Mayo island in recent weeks, as they try to catch a glimpse of the gentle giant.

Achill Island Basking Shark A huge Basking Shark has taken up residence at Keem Bay on Achill Isalnd in County Mayo. Image: Seán Molloy/Achill Tourism

Spokesperson Seán Molloy has filmed that shark swimming and feeding in the bay over the past month.

“He has been getting quite a good bit of attention – especially since the May Bank Holiday weekend,” he said.

“We had a whale and dolphin group organising a watch there and on that particular day, there were four basking sharks, two minke whales and up to 30 dolphins.

“So, since that day, a lot of people have gone back to the bay and on social media, almost every day, there are pictures of him going up.”

Achill Island Basking Shark A huge Basking Shark has taken up residence at Keem Bay on Achill Isalnd in County Mayo. Image: Seán Molloy/Achill Tourism

The bay was once the location of the largest Basking Shark fishery in the World – with over 9,000 sharks caught there-between 1950 and 1964.

Over the years, overfishing and a lack of understanding of the shark’s life cycle led to a critical reduction in their numbers worldwide.

In recent years however, Achill Tourism said the number of sightings has increased substantially.

Achill Island Basking Shark A huge Basking Shark has taken up residence at Keem Bay on Achill Isalnd in County Mayo. Image: Seán Molloy/Achill Tourism

Despite their huge size, the sharks are not aggressive and are harmless to divers and snorkelers.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the basking shark as a vulnerable species.

Reporting from Teena Gates


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