Basking sharks spotted a month early as warm spring triggers plankton boom

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As a lone basking shark swims near the Cornwall shore a month early, it seems even in the depths of the ocean, Britain’s unpredictable weather can cause confusion.

His early arrival as the first basking shark of the season, was photographed by diving instructor Charles Hood near Mount’s Bay, Penzance.

The plankton feeders are not normally visible until June and experts believe they have been tempted towards the shore early by the exceptionally warm weather in March.

Shark spotting: Diving instructor Charles Hood photographed the first basking shark of the season near Mount's Bay, Penzance and it was a male, aged around 10 years old and measuring around 20ft longShark spotting: Diving instructor Charles Hood photographed the shark estimated it was a male, aged around 10 years old and measuring around 20ft long 

Captured on camera: The plankton feeders are not normally visible until June and experts believe they have been tempted towards the shore early by the exceptionally warm weather in MarchCaptured on camera: The plankton feeders are not normally visible until June and experts believe they have been tempted towards the shore early by the exceptionally warm weather in March 

Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, said: ‘It is quite early to see them now.

‘However, we had an incredibly warm March which causes all sorts of things in the sea such as plankton to come on faster.

Basking sharks are in our waters all year round, it is just they come to the surface and start eating plankton on the surface and become visible.’

He added: ‘We are seeing activity earlier than normal. Normally it is the start of June we start seeing them in many numbers.

‘We haven’t seen any in numbers as of yet, we have only seen the odd one or two.’

Mr Hood, of Penzance, is the editor of Scuba magazine and also runs tourist trips out at sea to catch a glimpse of the sharks.

He estimated the shark he captured on camera to be a male, aged around 10 years old and measuring around 20ft (6 metres) long.

‘Although I’ve been taking pictures of basking sharks for years, I still get a thrill whenever I see them,’ he said.

‘I was around 15ft away from the shark when he was just below the surface and then he swam under me.

‘It’s an absolutely spectacular site.’

Basking sharks can reach lengths of up to 40ft and are the largest fish to roam in British waters.

They are one of only three plankton-feeding shark species and are harmless to humans.

Shark by the shore: Mount's Bay, West Cornwall where the first basking shark of the season was photographedShark by the shore: Mount’s Bay, West Cornwall where the first basking shark of the season was photographed 

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