Basking Sharks

Basking Sharks

basking shark in clyde - freedom sailingThe basking shark is the second largest fish, after the whale shark.  They often appear in numbers and utilise the  Clyde’s summer plankton blooms . The basking shark fishery was overexploited and fished commercially in the Clyde until as late as 1994.  There are inter annual fluctuations in the reported sightings of this species but generally seem to be  recovering. We are collecting sightings via our community sightings network, actively monitoring the impacts and contributing to local biodiversity action and marine spatial planning for this species. Basking sharks are a focus for one of our citizen science projects and exploring the potential for basking sharks to contribute to the Clyde’s eco-tourism potential. 

Clyde Basking Shark Sightings


 Basking Shark Surveys on the Cyde collated with HWDT data and SMASS Stranding reports.

individual basking sharks sighted in the Clyde.
Number of basking sharks sighted in the Clyde.

163 basking sharks were reported in the Clyde in 2015 although many reports were probably of the same shark.

Basking sharks are thought to over winter  in deep water off the continental shelf then come to the shallower waters of the Clyde in  late summer and early autumn.  This coincides with the seasonal copepod blooms in the Clyde and provides a rich planktonic soup for these filter feeders.

Time of basking shark observations
Time of basking shark observations

The sharks have been most frequently spotted feeding during late afternoon scooping up plankton that are concentrated in the surface waters.