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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 20:26 GMT
Winter visit from basking sharks
Basking Shark - PA
Basking Shark sightings have increased over the past 10 years
Basking sharks, which are normally only seen in British waters between May and July, have been seen off south Devon.

The creatures, which can grow to longer than a double-decker bus, appear off the South West coast every summer.

But fishermen and marine experts have been amazed to see the sharks just metres from the shore this month. The first sighting was off Teignmouth.

Sightings of the sharks generally begin when good weather increases the surface temperature of the sea.

'Really surprising'

The warmer water attracts the sharks, the second largest fish in the sea, which come to feed on plankton.

Numbers have steadily increased around the South West coast over the past 10 years.

But, despite this, the sightings have been exciting, even for those who are used to seeing the sharks every year.

Jon Dornon, skipper of the fishing boat Tenacious, said of his sighting this week: "We were just hauling in the pots, as per normal, and then one came floating down quite happily feeding.

"I've never seen one in November. It's most unusual."

Douglas Herdson of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth confirmed that such sightings were "very unusual".

He said: "This year there have been a few sightings in early October. But in November is really surprising."

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