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Basking shark school filmed by drone at Caliso Bay off County Waterford

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Media captionThe school of basking sharks was filmed off the coast of County Waterford using a drone camera

Among those enjoying the recent spell of spring sunshine over Ireland was a group of sharks pictured off the coast of County Waterford.

The school of basking sharks - the second largest fish in the world - were filmed by County Cork photographer James McCarthy using drone technology.

The sharks were spotted close to the beach at Caliso Bay on 12 May.

James said he had no idea the sharks would be there and that the footage was the result of "unbelievable timing".

"I had just upgraded to a new drone. I went down to the beach to test it and just as I pulled up onto the beach you could see all the fins - they were just off the shoreline," James said.

Image copyright James McCarthy photography
Image caption James McCarthy said capturing the footage had been a result of "unbelievable timing"

"So straight away I put the drone up. I think there was 12 of them [sharks] there altogether."

He said since the footage, which was taken last week, was posted on his Facebook page he's had a media inquiry every day asking to use it.

"The drone gives you a perspective that you can't see from the ground, regardless of what you're shooting," he said.

Image copyright James McCarthy Photography
Image caption James was told it is rare to see the huge fish so close to the surface and so close to a beach

James was also quickly contacted by the Isle of Man-based Manx Basking Shark Watch.

Coordinator Jackie Hall said the school of sharks includes an eight-meter-long (26ft) male they named Flowrider - which they satellite-tagged off the Isle of Man on 7 August 2015.

Mrs Hall had tracked the shark travelling via Morocco and France and had spent several days tracking him displaying surface feeding behaviour off the Irish coast in the exact area and time that the video was taken.

Image copyright James McCarthy Photography
Image caption The Irish coast is considered one of the best places in the British Isle to see the sharks

She said it was "astonishing" to see a video of his school after nine months tracking him as a dot on the map."

James continued: "They said the Irish coast is probably the best place to see them, but it's rare to see them them that close to the surface and that close to the beach as well," he said.

"So it was definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time."

The whale shark is the only fish larger than the basking shark. They can grow to 11m in length (36ft) and weigh up to seven tonnes.

Image copyright James McCarthy Photography
Image caption Basking sharks can grow to be 11m (36ft) long and can weigh seven tonnes

They have no teeth and feed on microscopic plankton by opening wide their huge mouths. Despite their size they are considered harmless to humans.

In 2011, crowds gathered to see a 14ft long basking shark which swam round Portrush harbour for several hours.

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