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Page last updated at 16:33 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 17:33 UK
Filming basking sharks around the Isle of Man
Film Crew
The German film crew visited the Island during TT week in 2009

The arrival of the basking sharks in the Irish sea has come to mean the official beginning of Manx summertime.

In 2009, award winning natural history film director Florian Guthknecht visited the Island to shoot a film about these magnificent creatures.

Guthknecht and his crew stayed for three weeks to record the sharks for a film entitled "Gentle Giants."

The film was transmitted on a French- German channel in April and will be repeated soon in Germany.

Best footage possible

Florian travelled to the Island with both an underwater and topside team to ensure they got the best footage possible.

He explains: "I was thinking about shooting in Scotland but I heard about the Isle of Man through Jackie and Graham Hall who have completed some very important work with Basking sharks.

"Their research over the past few years has been extensive and incredibly exciting.

"They were very impressive people and I really wanted to work with them. They are so passionate about what they do and I wanted that sort of passion in the film."

Within hours of landing I saw my first basking shark. There was a huge fin in the harbour and I couldn't believe my luck
Florian Guthknecht

When Florian arrived he used the first day to drive around to check out various locations.

"Within hours of landing I saw my first basking shark. There was a huge fin in the harbour and I couldn't believe my luck.

Six meters long

"The shark was about six meters long and I thought to myself- this is going to be one of the easiest shoots I have ever been on!"

Despite this auspicious start, the next few weeks were not as fruitful.

"I didn't see another shark for nearly three weeks! It is often like that when you are filming wildlife. You can spend a long time seeing nothing and then you are eventually rewarded with one day of great filming. The only thing you can do is get up every morning and try again.

"These animals are very hard to film because you cannot attract them with food. If you are filming a Great White you can put blood and meat into the water but Basking sharks eat plankton.

Feeding birds
Feeding birds can often lead you to the basking sharks

"You have to learn to spot plankton. Feeding birds will indicate where the fish are and the fish feed on plankton so that is a good start and high densities of plankton show up as silver lines in the sea".

But the time went by and still no sharks.

"We even put out a request on the local radio asking people to report any sightings to our hot-line mobile phone number.

"We had people calling in from all over the Isle of Man and finally we found some. Sadly though, the filming wasn't very successful and after three weeks all we had was 20 seconds of bad footage!"

Luckily after the main teams left one camera man was able to film the sharks. The dedicated team ended up with valuable shots which eventually went to make up a film called "The Gentle Giants".

German film crew
The German film crew spent 3 weeks looking for basking sharks

"The camera man eventually got 2 sharks feeding together and some shots of a shark in a field of jelly fish which was amazing.

"He also got some shots of a shark with a huge parasite attached to it. The biggest I have ever seen, it looked like a snake.

"We may not have had much success in the first three weeks but we were left with some wonderful memories of the Isle of Man.

"One man even gave us his van for the duration of our visit. The price of hiring a vehicle during TT week would have taken us over budget and so this guy we met just lent us his. That type of thing wouldn't happen anywhere else".

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