On Wednesday 3rd of August 2011, a basking shark estimated to be between 15 and 20 feet in length (6-7m) was spotted in the Narrows just off Cook St Quay.
It was Dr. Pat Boaden, formally the director of Queens University Belfast Marine Research Laboratory, who spotted the magnificent animal as it moved with the fast flowing current out of the lough. Dr. Boaden commented that it is unusual to see a basking shark in Strangford Lough; more often they are seen out in the open sea for instance animals around 20ft in length (~7m) are regularly seen around Bloody Bridge, Newcastle area close to shore.
Basking sharks normally grow to between 6 and 8 meters, though animals as large as 12 meters have been reported. These gentle giants feed on plankton by filtering water through their cavernous, 1 meter wide jaw. While they may look like a fierce shark, they have only very small and relatively few teeth so they pose no threat to humans. If you spot one of these beautiful, gentle animals contact the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership office (phone: 028 4272 9005) or tell us about it on Facebook.
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