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BASKING SHARK! | 1 Basking Shark, 100 Commons, 6 Bottlenose

Another wonderful day in the channel led us to some breathtaking and RARE wildlife!

Seconds past the sandspit a group of coastal bottlenose dolphins approached the boat. We had a few close looks but decided to head offshore. We headed out of the harbor in an Easterly direction. Not long after our departure, giant birdnados caught our attention. We ping-ponged from flock of hungry birds to hungry birds. Among the birdnados were about 100 common dolphins spread out throughout the area. They raced over to our boat and enjoyed their usual bow/ wake riding antics.

We received a very rare report from our dear friend and incredible marine biologist/ naturalist Holly Lohuis onboard the Islander of Island Packers. A BASKING SHARK! While Holly told us of two in the area, we found a single adult about 22~25 feet in length. These sharks are the second largest shark species on the planet. While they're incredible and prehistoric-looking gentle giants, their populations have taken major hits here in the Channel. While once plentiful, they have now become an extremely rare sight. They were once highly sought after for their meats, oils, fins, and vitamin-rich livers. While basking shark fisheries have since been dismissed, their populations are having a hard time recovering. These gentle giants are ovoviviparous, meaning they’ll give birth to LIVE young, usually 1-6 large pups, and they are suspected of doing so every 2-3 years. This makes the recovery of their species a slow and drawn-out process and makes the population easily susceptible to collapse entirely.

They're currently listed as endangered under the IUCN Red List and considered a species of concern by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) mainly due to these three factors.

1)   A dramatic population decline of basking sharks off the coast of Canada and California since the 1900’s.

2)   No signs of population recovery 50 years after the closure of the basking shark fishery in the eastern North Pacific.

3)   A severe lack of information on the species that makes it difficult to develop a recovery plan,

Our crew and passengers undoubtedly found one of the rarer species that calls the channel home, and we are so thankful for the incredible moments we spent with this prehistoric dinosaur!

Happy Whaling,

The SBWW Crew

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