Massive 18ft Shark Passes By Swimmer Off Scottish Coast
A swimmer came within inches of a huge 18ft shark off the coast of Scotland.
Ryan Leith was out exploring the waters around the Shetland Islands last month when he came across an enormous basking shark.
Speaking about the close encounter, the 48-year-old said he was ready to pack up and go home empty-handed when he saw the creature gliding through the water.
He said: "I had just about given up when I saw not one, but two sharks just off the coastline at Fladdabister.
"They were feeding on the abundant plankton that blooms in the sea around Shetland during the summer.
"I stopped the boat and dropped the anchor. The shark seemed to be interested in the boat and swam towards it almost immediately.
"I took a lot of photos of it on the surface and then, as it seemed quite relaxed, I went over the side with my snorkelling gear on."
Now, despite looking like ruthless predators, basking sharks feed on plankton and it's rare that they will attack a human.
But that wouldn't really make most people feel any better if they saw one coming straight towards them, like Ryan did.
In footage captured using a GoPro, the basking shark can be seen emerging from the murky water and passing by with its huge jaw gaping.
More Like ThisMore Like This
Ryan, a port controller for Lerwick Port Authority, said he believes it probably measured about 18ft long.
He said: "I waited close to the boat and filmed the shark with my GoPro as it passed by.
"It was great to be in the water with such a large and powerful animal.
"The plankton it was feeding on limited the underwater visibility so it would only appear out of the gloom when it was a few metres away from me."
Ryan added: "It was quite exciting."
After the whale shark, the basking shark is the second-largest extant shark in the world.
And while for some time their future looked very bleak, Ryan says this sighting is a sign that they might be thriving in the area.
He said: "In the past - the 1950s and '60s - they were hunted around Shetland by Norwegian fishermen for their livers, which contain large amounts of oil.
"Thankfully now they are a protected species and their numbers are increasing.
"There have been a good number of basking sharks sightings around Shetland over the past few weeks which is great."
Featured Image Credit: Pen News
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read