Basking Sharks are largely harmless creatures (for humans at least), are not very curious and are fairly easily disturbed and scared off by bubbles so divers often resort to snorkelling or free diving to get a closer and longer experience.
Getting too close to Basking Sharks while diving is not recommended as you do not want the creature feeling threatened. Also these are very large powerful creatures so it is advised to swim to the side and not in front or directly behind as you may get in the way of the tail. But all that said the sharks are quite tolerant to boats and people and sometimes get very curious and may decide to approach you to investigate.
It is difficult to keep up with a feeding Basking Shark but if you are a strong enough swimmer you should be able to keep up for 20/30 seconds or so. If you are lucky and in a good plankton rich spot many Basking Sharks will circle around feeding on the plankton in the area. So a better tactic is to wait in one spot and wait for it to come back to you rather than swimming after a creature thats a lot faster than you.
Basking Sharks are the second largest living fish (after the Whale Shark) and are a popular marine animal to dive with due to their size, gracefulness and perhaps most of all because they are harmless creatures. They are found in temperate oceans across the world and are a migratory species. They are often seen cruising close to the shore filter feeding using their large mouths. Basking Sharks can be found alone or in small shoals and are thought to winter in deep waters.
The Basking Shark is a filter feeder and feeds on zoo plankton, and small invertebrates. They feed on the surface with their mouths open and gills erect, this is why they are often seen cruising close to the shore. This shark is a slow moving shark feeding at about 2.3mph, and this filters about 1.8 tonnes of water per hour. Although they are slow moving these sharks are known to breach, entirely jumping ut of the water.
Unfortunately this amazing fish is a commercially important species and has long been overfished for its fins, oils and as a source of food. It is an easy target due to its slow speed, unaggressive behaviour and previous large numbers. This has reduced its populations dramatically to the point where some have disappeared completely and others greatly need protection. It has now fully protected in the UK, Malta, Florida and USA Gulf
More detailed information about Basking Sharks can be found here.
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