Highlands & Islands

Hundreds of sharks seen on Scotland's west coast

Basking shark Image copyright Shane Wasik/Basking Shark Scotland
Image caption Basking sharks are the world's second biggest fish

Hundreds of basking sharks were recorded in the sea around the Inner Hebrides earlier this year.

Wildlife tour operator Basking Shark Scotland said more than 700 sightings were made by its staff and the public between April and October.

The bulk of the sightings of the massive fish were made off the isles of Mull, Coll and Tiree.

Oban-based Basking Shark Scotland also recorded more than 1,000 cetaceans, including whales and dolphins.

Rarer marine life such as sunfish and a leatherback turtle were also spotted.

Basking Shark Scotland, which has released a film of some of the creatures encountered this year, said 2015 had been its best year for sharks.

In 2013 it recorded 172 basking sharks and 250 last year.

Huge mouths

Basking sharks are the world's second biggest fish - the whale shark is the largest - and can grow to 11m (36ft) and weigh up to seven tonnes.

They have no teeth and feed on microscopic plankton by opening wide their huge mouths.

Every summer the sharks gather in large numbers around small islands off Scotland's west coast where they are sought out by scientists and wildlife watchers.

Large numbers of marine animals off Scotland's west coast were also recorded this year by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust.

It documented its highest ever number of young minke whales.

Twenty-eight juveniles were counted this year, three times the average compared with previous years.

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