An interesting article appeared in the Scotsman today about basking sharks. It seems that the population of these huge sharks have doubled in the past five years. Wikipedia writes the following about the basking shark:
The basking shark is the second largest fish, after the whale shark. It is a cosmopolitan species - it is found in all the world's temperate oceans. It is a slow moving and generally harmless filter feeder. Like other large sharks, basking sharks are at risk of extinction due to a combination of low resilience and overfishing to supply the worldwide market for the shark's fins, flesh and organs. This shark is called the basking shark because it is most often observed when feeding at the surface and appears to be basking.
According to the article in the Scotsman the number of basking sharks have risen from less than 100 in 2003 to 250 last year. Although the same article mentions that the west coast of Mull and the sea round Tiree and Coll are hot spots, there certainly is a good possiblity that these huge animals can be spotted in Islay's waters as well. I was told that they had been spotted in the Sound of Islay. The increase in the number of basking sharks could be a result of the greater protection they have, they were fished for until recently, as well as an increase in the food supply. Whatever the reason is, it's great to hear that the numbers of these magnificent creatures are rising in stead of falling.