Basking Shark Expedition, Penzance, United Kingdom, June 6-10, 2013


Day 1.
After approximately 5 hours drive from Heathrow Airport we arrived at Penzance, Cornwall. Apart from the unique basking shark you will find lots of nice pubs with the menu connected to the sea. This is a nice cozy village.

Day 2. The next morning we met Charles Hood in the harbour where his RIB Logan was waiting in glistening water. We left the harbour for the open sea. Charles has many years of experience and can find the right water for basking sharks easily. The strategy for the day was to search along the coast for a sighting of a shark`s dorsal fin. We did our best but without success. Charles reckoned that this was probably due to the lack of plankton after the cold winter. No basking shark were spotted today.

Day 3. Another day of sunshine, I thought it always rained in England but I was wrong. We started along the same part of the coast fin spotting and had the same result. After some time we headed for an island with a big colony of seals. We jumped in the water and swam along with some intrusive seals. The seal encounter was very entertaining with alert and friendly grey seals of different ages, however not a sign of a basking shark. Charles was getting worried when the day ended.

Day 4. Good start – Charles heard from a fisherman a basking shark had been spotted. We went out to look for it but with no luck – it has to be lack of plankton! After lunch we headed for a cliff where the waves were high and the wind was blowing strong but as we went around the cliff we entered a lagoon which had turquoise water and no wind. Immediately we spotted two pointed dorsal fins. It´s a big moment but they were heading out to sea and they disappeared into the distance. With high hopes we continued our spotting because now we knew the giants are here. After a while we spotted a dorsal fin close to land. It was our first basking shark. We were all prepared to enter the water as soon as Charles indicated the green light. The first thing to do when you enter the water is to learn how the basking shark is moving and then try to cross its way. Suddenly, I saw a big black fin coming towards me. I looked down, to the right and to the left. Where is it? It is very difficult to see anything here, because the water it´s so rich of plankton. I finally saw the basking shark when it was a couple of meters away from me. It´s mouth was wide open filtering plankton.

To have the opportunity to take pictures of this long giant from different angles and positions is fantastic and it gives you an impressive feeling. After four hours we finished by taking pictures of the dorsal fin slicing through the water. What a day.

The basking shark is not only a big attraction for the English as other nationalities come from all over the world, either to meet them in the water or photographing from the shore.

Thank you to Scuba Travel and Charles Hood who made The Basking Expedition 2013 possible. I would also like to thank everyone involved for keeping the spirit up during the 4 day trip.

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