Basking Shark! In search of the Holy Tail!
Oct 29 2014
Basking Shark! In search of the Holy Tail! In July of this year we had the pleasure of having Ceri Levy (writer, producer and film maker), Damon Albarn (lead singer of Blur and Gorrilaz) and Marc Riley (BBC Broadcaster and to us, better known for cult fame as Lard, half of the Radio 1 presenter duo Mark & Lard) aboard for a private shark trip out into the Hebrides, as part of their BBC4 radio show, in search of the holy tail! We picked them up in Tobermory before heading off into the Hebrides for our day’s adventure. A great bunch of blokes and they were really up for it, albeit a little nervous about the big fish.
Arriving at the lagoon, everyone geared up for some fantastic snorkelling with the seals and reefs. Damon was even keen on a swim in his shorts! Declaring that it wasn’t as cold as his expectations! For sure in mid-July, the surface temperature would be about 14-15 degrees, with only a wee bit of wind chill on the day bringing the temp down on the boat. We spent an hour or so checking out the abundant kelp forest and rocky reefs, having schooling sand eels forming bait balls along with the resident grey and harbour seals playing around us. After that, we briefed the guys on looking for the basking sharks and thankfully the big fish didn’t disappoint. We first spotted a few close by to where we had just been snorkelling, but with some surface chop, it was a little difficult to track them. However, the sight of the black dorsal fin certainly raised the anticipation on the boat! Then after a little time scanning some of our local haunts, the wind dropped and we found ourselves in the company of around 10-15 large sharks who had found a big patch of plankton! Exciting times! This time just Damon and Marc went in the water, with Ceri giving commentary from the boat. As this was a radio show, the sounds of swimming and gurgling in snorkels wouldn’t cut it. So someone had to stay behind to keep the chat going. Shane, owner of Basking Shark Scotland was guiding them on the trip and manoeuvred Damon and Marc into a great position. Soon enough the shark fins were working their way towards the group and they ended up having a great view underwater of a number of large sharks feeding – gaping mouths open!
For a seasoned shark swimmer, Shane even commented that they had a great view, and there were points where numerous sharks could be spotted underwater at the same time. Time was running out, following the success of the superb encounter they were so elated and had collected all the material they needed. We decided to head back in. Everyone was stoked at how successful the day had gone and they had a real sense of accomplishment. Perhaps it was only now they admitted that they had been a tad nervous to start with! The encounter was part of a 30min programme on BBC Radio 4, where they also visited the sea eagles on Mull and landed to look at Fingals Cave. The show is available on BBC Iplayer for those that didn’t catch it at the weekend and for those overseas we hope that it would be available soon on the web.