Huge 16ft shark pictured near swimmers in Cornwall

Huge 16ft shark pictured near swimmers in Cornwall

Swimmers were pictured getting up close and personal with an enormous 16ft shark in Cornwall on Tuesday.

Lucky bathers at Porthcurno beach came across the basking shark as it was filter feeding on plankton - and were in no danger as these creatures are known as gentle giants.

Photographer Rachel Hosken told the Daily Mail: "It was a very peaceful scene.

"The shark just carried on feeding and completely ignored the swimmers."

The basking shark is the second largest living fish, after the whale shark, and the second of three plankton-eating sharks, the other two being the whale shark and megamouth shark.

Huge 16ft shark pictured near swimmers in Cornwall

On average, the adult basking shark reaches a length of six to eight metres (20 to 26ft) and weighs about 5.2 tonnes.

Some specimens still surpass nine to 10 metres (30 to 33 ft), but after years of large-scale fishing, basking sharks of this size have become rare.

The largest one was trapped in a herring net in the Bay of Fundy, Canada in 1851. Its total length was 12.27 metres (40.3ft), and it weighed an estimated 19 tonnes.

Basking sharks can often be spotted feeding off the coast of Devon and Cornwall in the spring and summer months.

Just last week, a man came extremely close to a basking shark while kayaking in County Donegal, Ireland - and caught the moment on video.

Graham Smith was fishing for lightweight tope shark when he ended up being "followed" by the huge but harmless shark.

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