Friday 24 March 2017

Wild Ireland - Basking Sharks

As many of you know, I have an interest and involvement in marine activities in the waters of West Cork. Some days the weather is just gruesome, other days it is just amazing, and so I look back with joy at a 'flaming first of June' last year. This was a day when basking shark activity was particularly spectacular, as was the minke whale activity but it was the former that was creating the headlines.

For a couple of weeks last summer, basking sharks were being seen off the coast, just outside Castlehaven harbour and also in Toehead Bay, my home patch. Each evening we could watch upwards of a dozen 'baskers' skulking around the waters in an effort to make the most of the feeding in the plankton-rich water. This activity came to the attention of a great Irish naturalist, film-maker, and regular visitor to West Cork, Colin Stafford-Johnson

I too was making the most of the increased activity and was getting out with Cork Whale Watch on the Holly Jo as much as I could, and on this particular day, we had to wait for the boat to come in, as yer man had grabbed the opportunity to get out early on the water with the film crew and his curragh, in search of these basking sharks.

Needless to say, a successful morning out filming rendered a slightly later than planned return to Reen Pier, thus pushing the start of our own trip on a bit but we didn't mind. Pádraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group launched into an impromptu and entertaining pier-side seminar on cetaceans for the benefit of those who hadn't been whale, or indeed, basking shark watching before.

With Colin no.2 now safely back onto land, (a sunny backdrop of Castletownshend behind him) we were able to look forward to going out on our own trip with Colin no.1. With the Holly Jo dwarfing the curragh which Colin Stafford-Johnson was using as his signature filming platform, we were content with the relatively larger viewing platform from which to make our observations

With the drone having done its' work for the day, it was packed carefully away into the box, the aerial shots providing an even better perspective than ever I could manage of these gentle giants of the sea, from the viewing platform on the Holly Jo.

Not knowing the actual schedule for the resulting programmes, I was delighted to see part 1 of Wild Ireland: The Edge of the World scheduled, appropriately for St Patricks' Day last week, with part 2 to be shown tonight at 9pm on BBC2. This week, showing the basking sharks in Donegal, in the north. A quick message to Colin Stafford-Johnson checking to see if the West Cork 'baskers' would also feature rendered this reply.

"Hi Celia.
Sharks were filmed in several places but could only be shown in one as it were.....I think they placed them in Donegal in this episode...Colin."

So you never know, it might be this one above which features this evening...well I would like to think so!

Do try to catch Wild Ireland: The Edge of the World tonight, or on catch up iPlayer - wonderful escapism in a week that will be memorable for tragic reasons.