Basking in the attention

Twenty-foot shark draws crowd during visit to Port aux Basques wharf

Brodie Thomas editor@gulfnews.ca
Published on August 19, 2009
Tyler Keeping (from left), Cody King and Nikita Pearce watch as a basking shark swims around the floating docks at the Port aux Basques government wharf. Photo by Brodie Thomas/The Gulf News

It looked more like Sea World than the Port aux Basques government wharf last week.

A basking shark, more than 20 feet long, put on a show for about 100 people Thursday.

The shark was apparently tangled up in the nets of some local fishermen, who brought the beast back to town before untangling it.

The disoriented animal swam around the wharf for about an hour, occasionally running up against the shore, much to the delight of everyone who came out for the show.

Port aux Basques -

It looked more like Sea World than the Port aux Basques government wharf last week.

A basking shark, more than 20 feet long, put on a show for about 100 people Thursday.

The shark was apparently tangled up in the nets of some local fishermen, who brought the beast back to town before untangling it.

The disoriented animal swam around the wharf for about an hour, occasionally running up against the shore, much to the delight of everyone who came out for the show.

At first, there was some debate about what the animal was.

Nikita Pearce of Port aux Basques initially insisted it was a whale because when its tail broke the surface, it did so horizontally like a whale's would. The shark was in fact swimming on its side.

Nikita was determined to pet the shark.

She leaned over the side of a dory and succeeded in briefly petting the animal's fin.

The crowd rushed from one floating dock to another as the shark swam around the harbour.

At times, people lost sight of it from the glare on the water, only to have it reappear when its dorsal fin and tail broke the surface.

A few of the younger children were genuinely afraid as the shark passed underneath the floating docks, but they were reassured by parents and grandparents who were amazed at the sight.

There was speculation by some in the crowd that the animal might have come inshore to die, but around 5 p.m. the shark seemed to finally regain its bearings and head back out to sea.

Basking sharks are the second- largest species of shark in the world, after whale sharks. They are passive filter feeders that eat plankton, small fish and small invertebrates.