The first sighting of a basking shark around the Isle of Man sparks caution

The Isle of Man government has issued a request to boaters to be aware that there are an increasing number of basking sharks in Manx waters.

The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) has called for all boaters to keep a keen lookout for the sharks and to be careful when cruising around them.

“People operating fast vessels including powerboats and jet-skis are asked to keep their distance, reduce their speed and keep updated on when and where basking sharks are last seen to limit disturbance and avoid any collisions with the endangered sharks,” said a government spokesperson.

“Vessels should maintain 100m distance from basking sharks. If basking sharks approach your boat that’s fine but don’t approach them.”

Basking sharks are a protected species and reckless behaviour or causing intentional injury is an offence on the Isle of Man and you could be fined up to £5000 if prosecuted.

Basking sharks are the second biggest fish in the world – only the whale shark is bigger.

They can grow up to 10m in length and often gather in large groups around the Manx coast from mid May until September.

For more information or to report a sighting see http://www.manxbaskingsharkwatch.com/

Read the MBM guide to cruising the Isle of Man in the June 2010 issue of Motor Boats Monthly.