Huge basking sharks were spotted off Southern California coast for the first time in 30 years.
Imagine a bus with a tail attached to it. That’s how shark expert Chris Lowe describes the basking shark, the second-largest shark species — smaller only than the whale shark — that has been causing a buzz off the Southern California coast the past month after being rarely seen for three decades, Mercury News reports.
Those giants have been spotted recently off of Santa Barbara and Ventura, and Santa Monica Bay and San Pedro, by whale watching charters.
“They are huge. They have a huge mouth … it literally looks like a 55-gallon drum in the water,” Lowe said. However, unlike their relatives, this species won’t bite. “You should only be scared if you’re krill,” the expert added.
Lowe also pointed that their dramatically decrease numbers is because many of them are ending up in salmon nets and then the fishermen are killing them. However, he also declared that “he recent sightings could mean the basking shark population is starting to recover.”
“Maybe they are an early warning system that we’ll have a productive season. Basking sharks like to eat krill and small fish. Maybe that’s a good sign,” Lowe also said.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, basking sharks are a “species of concern.” Among the reasons for the designation, the NOAA said, are the apparent reduction in numbers, the lack of a recovery in population size despite around 50 years without being targeted and lack of information on basic aspects of their biology, Daily Breeze reports.
Cherryl Connally, co-owner of Island Packers also said the sights are showing basking sharks numbers are increasing. “Many years ago, we saw a lot along the coast,” she said. “This is something new and different and we are all excited about it. The sightings we’ve had have been way over the top.”