Juvenile Basking Shark Spotted – Summer 2022
Aug 02 2022
One of the biggest mysteries with basking sharks is reproduction, where and how do they breed? Where are their pupping grounds? There are many unanswered questions, but we are seeing small pieces of the jigsaw come together. There are very few juvenile shark sightings in the Hebrides, leading to the conclusion that this area is not a pupping area. However we have had a few sightings over the years we were in the water with one of the first juveniles when a lucky passenger Stuart Holmes managed to capture a picture of it. We do think basking sharks breed in the area due to the courtship and breaching behaviors seen commonly in summer.
We had another juvenile basking shark sighting from the boat in the summer of 2022, and it was observed to be feeding. However, its movements were erratic in choppy conditions, so this time we observed the shark from the surface only.
Juveniles are easily distinguished from adults, firstly by their size, as they are much smaller. It is understood that juveniles are around 1.6-1.8m at birth. The average size of adult sharks we see is 5-6m, and the largest are around 8-9m. The maximum size is thought to be 10-12m. However, it’s their nose (or rostrum) that is the most unique feature. Instead of the large bulbous nose of the adult, they have a small upturned nose with a thin tip. If you can imagine a cross between a Mr whippy ice cream and a basking shark nose – then you’ll get an idea of the shape! There is no definitive answer to why they have this feature as a baby shark, some suggest benefits around initial feeding strategies, others around development inside mum besides the other pups. It’s a super cool little thing anyway, so check out the video shot from the boat. Baby shark, baby shark doo doo de doooo.