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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
Basking sharks spotted off coast
Basking shark
Basking sharks feed off inshore plankton blooms
Large groups of basking sharks have been spotted off the Cornish coast during an aerial survey.

The University of Exeter and Marine Conservation Society (MCS) recorded 18 basking sharks in two hours on Friday, as well as common dolphins and sunfish.

A spokeswoman said: "These basking shark sightings indicate that Cornish waters are an important summer hotspot for this protected species."

Another 33 shark sightings have been recorded in recent weeks.

The National Coastwatch Institution at Bass Point, Lizard, reported seeing 19 sharks and Seawatch recorded 14 shark sightings at Gwennap Head near Land's End.

No great whites were recorded in any of the surveys, despite several unconfirmed sightings by the public.

Basking shark seen during the aerial survey
The aerial survey records the marine life off the South West coast

The MCS said the excitement generated by the claims actually put basking sharks in danger as people were taking their boats too close to see what species of shark they were.

Basking sharks are regular visitors to British coasts, especially in the summer when they come to feed on inshore plankton blooms.

Peter Richardson, MCS species policy officer, said: "During the aerial survey we also saw common dolphins, which, along with the basking sharks have been mistaken for great white sharks during the recent media feeding frenzy."

The society has recorded more than 10,500 public sightings of basking sharks in UK waters over the past 20 years.


SEE ALSO
County basks in tall shark tales
09 Aug 07 |  Cornwall
Survey spots coastal shark life
04 Aug 07 |  Cornwall
Great White lookalike washed up
01 Aug 07 |  Cornwall
Great White sighting 'possible'
28 Jul 07 |  Cornwall

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