Ireland: Stunned kayakers come face-to-face with basking shark | World News

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This is the incredible moment a shark brushed right up against the side of a woman’s kayak in Ireland.

Louise Barker was paddling off the west coast of Cork with her friend Becky Hatchett when the ‘surreal’ encounter happened on Monday.

The 33-year-old managed to capture the eight-metre long basking shark just as they came face-to-face with it.

Footage shows the shark swimming towards her and bumping the kayak with its fin just a matter of inches from where she’s sitting inside the watercraft.

After swimming right underneath her, the shark continues to circle around the pair in the water.

Ms Barker shared the video on Twitter and wrote: ‘Had a little bump from a curious basking shark off the west Cork coast yesterday. 

‘What a stunning creature.’

The shark swam towards the kayak (Picture: PA)

It was the first kayaking trip of the year for the two friends and Ms Barker, a publicist and music manager, admitted she cannot believe what happened. 

She said: ‘It was a pretty surreal experience having this curious guy pop up next to us. Such a gentle giant.

‘We had perfect weather conditions, so we headed out in Becky’s double kayak, and it did not disappoint.

‘We had heard about recent basking shark sightings along the coast and we were hoping to catch a glimpse of a fin.

‘I wasn’t expecting to come nose-to-nose with one.’

It brushed right up against the side of Ms Barker’s kayak (Picture: PA)

Ms Hatchett, an artist and member of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, said: ‘We’ve seen minke whales, basking sharks and dolphins from the same spot as it’s a very popular feeding ground for wildlife.’

The two friends met during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and became ‘swimming buddies’.

Ms Barker said: ‘We go kayaking and swimming along the west Cork coast all year round.’

Ms Hatchett added: ‘During Covid, there were so many more sightings, when the fishing boats weren’t around, but now with the trawlers out we don’t see as much activity.’

The basking shark swam around near the kayakers (Picture: PA)

Basking sharks are reportedly common sights in the waters off the west coast of Ireland during the early summer months of May and June, according to Achill Tourism.

They are, in general, not a danger to humans, but there is a code of conduct people are advised to follow when encountering them while in a watercraft.

The advice includes reducing your speed, avoiding sudden changes of direction, sitting still if you can and waiting for the shark to approach you, rather than you moving towards them.

Donal Griffin, coordinator for the Irish Basking Shark Group, shared a comment about Ms Barker’s video on Twitter and said: ‘What a gorgeous basking shark encounter.

‘Note how the shark approached the kayak, and then moved on. Great work Louise Barker.’

Earlier this month, a rare 10ft long razor-toothed shark was found off the south-west coast of the UK.

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