Basking sharks around the coast of Skye

Are there basking sharks around the coast of Skye?

Basking sharks are the world’s second largest fish and they are to be found around the coast of Skye in summer. They get their name from their habit of, yes, you guessed it, basking.  They cruise just beneath the surface while with their huge mouths and gills open filter feeding tiny micro-organisms.

Basking shark

Basking shark off the coast of Skye – oblivious to the boat.

Is it easy to see basking sharks off the coast of Skye?

A boat trip from Elgol, in the summer months, will give a good chance of a sighting.  Talk to one of trip boat operators in Elgol.   Try Misty Isle Boat Trips or Bella Jane Boat Trips both of which operate from Elgol jetty.

When is the best time to see basking sharks?

Basking sharks move northwards in summer following their food source of plankton which is shared by other fish, notably herring.  In the days when herring netting was big business around the West Coast, basking sharks were very unpopular among fishermen. The sharks got caught and damaged their nets.  The fishermen had spend their days repairing torn nets before they could go fishing again the next night.

Basking shark fishery

Basking sharks yield large quantities of oil from their livers.  This was once in demand from the medicines and cosmetics industries.  Demand was great enough to support a post-war shark fishery based on the small island of Soay, just off Elgol.  The business was set up by Ring of Bright Water otter man, Gavin Maxwell. The sharks were caught by harpooning them, whaling style.  The venture was short lived as although the oil was valuable the rest of the carcass was not and most of the fish had to be dumped out at sea.

More information

As always luck and the weather will play their part but being in the right place at the right time certainly improves your chances of seeing one of these amazing but little understood creatures.  There’s more information and much better pictures at The Shark Trust website.

So, if you are thinking about a trip to Skye and you want a good base from which to spend some time looking for basking sharks, then Springbank Cottage might be the place for you.  Springbank Cottage is more than just a “standard” holiday cottage, take a closer look.  We hope you will be surprised by how much is on offer during a stay at Springbank Cottage.

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