Basking sharks swim under kayaks in ‘surreal’ experience off Irish coast

Two kayakers had a “real” encounter with a basking shark off the coast of West Cork in Ireland, with the shark swimming right under their kayaks.

Lewis Barker, 33, captured the encounter on video, which he shared on Twitter with the caption: “Had a slight collision with a curious basking shark off the west Cork coast yesterday. What a magnificent creature.

In the footage, Barker can be heard gasping as the shark swims towards him and its fin brushes right next to his kayak.

Ms Barker, a publicist and music manager, told the PA news agency: “It was a very surreal experience to have this curious man popping up next to us. Such a huge gentleman.

Ms Barker went on her first kayaking trip of the year on Monday with her friend, Becky Hatchett, 46.

“We had perfect weather conditions, so we went out in Becky’s double kayak, and it did not disappoint.

“We had recently heard of shark sightings along the coast and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of a fin.”

“I wasn’t expecting to come face to face with one.”

Ms Hatchett, an artist and member of the Irish Whales and Dolphins group, told the PA news agency: “We have seen minke whales, basking sharks and dolphins from the same spot as it is a very popular feeding ground for wildlife. “

The two friends met during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and became “swimming buddies”.

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Ms Barker said: “We go kayaking and swimming on the west Cork coast all year round.”

Ms Hatchett said: “During Covid, there were a lot more sightings when the fishing boats weren’t around, but now with the trawlers out there we don’t see as much activity.”

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