Basking shark spotted off north Norfolk coast

A 10ft basking shark has been spotted by holidaymakers on a rare appearance in the shallow waters off the north Norfolk coast.

The second largest fish in the world is a regular summer visitor to feeding grounds on the western shores of Britain.

But it is a comparatively uncommon sight on the east coast, so tourists were stunned to see the ocean's gentle giant off the coast of Brancaster.

Chris and Sue Kennedy, from Birmingham, were taking a day trip with Branta Cruises from Brancaster Staithe when they photographed the shark on September 16.

Mr Kennedy said: 'The sea couldn't have been calmer. My wife Sue first noticed there was something in the water and at first we were not sure if it was two seals but it soon became clear it was one animal with a tail fin and dorsal fin.

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'The tail was moving side to side not up and down like a seal or porpoise. It was cruising along the surface heading into the creak. We managed to get alongside the shark and get a really good view of it.

'It is definitely one of those cases where we were in the right place at the right time.'

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An online blog posted by Brancaster Staithe-based company Norfolk Fishing Trips and Charter the previous day reports 'a first' for the firm with the sighting of a '200lb+ basking shark outside the harbour, about 10ft long'.

Basking sharks, which can reach over ten metres in length and up to seven tonnes in weight, are the largest wild animal regularly found in British waters. It is the world's second largest fish species behind the Indo-Pacific whale shark.

Despite its enormous size, the gentle giant poses no direct threat to humans as it feeds on animal plankton, filtering 1,000 to 2,000 cubic metres of seawater per hour to extract its tiny prey.

Ed Parnell, communications officer for the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: 'It is quite unusual to see a basking shark in this part of the east coast. They are quite common off the tip of Cornwall, the Isle of Man and the west coast of Scotland. 'There are a few records from Norfolk, but it is pretty unusual to see one here.'

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