Spotting Basking Sharks in Cornwall
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The season for basking sharks usually starts in May and last until October. Actually, the best time is mid-May until mid-July. However, there is no guarantee to spot these sharks. In 2017 the best time was April until the beginning of May. In 2018 the first sighting of two sharks was at the end of April. In recent years, fewer basking sharks were spotted. In 2019 two basking sharks were already seen on March 12 which is pretty early.
Very important are good weather conditions, a sunny day and calm wind to spot them on the surface of the sea and for snorkeling with them as well. Book your trip at short notice. First, check if basking sharks are already around the coast.
What Else to Spot
- common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins
- minke whales (very shy)
- pilot whales
- leatherback turtles
- sometimes sunfish
- blue sharks; season starts end of June, more reliable to spot them but not predictable
- seals from mid-May until October
Check out the recent sightings for SW England
Where to Stay
There are many lovely B&B's in Penzance to choose from. Don't come here in a rush and for the basking sharks only. There is so much more like Kynance Cove, St. Michaels Mount, Minack Theatre and the hanging gardens to mention just a view. Our absolutely favorite B&B is the Marine Lodge. The view alone is worth to stay here. The Marine Lodge is spotlessly clean with wonderful owners. You couldn't wish for better.
Cornwall is a hotspot for basking sharks and they first turn up here. The migration follows the coastline and passes Land's End in spring. They are attracted by the high plankton concentration. With a high concentration of plankton, the sear appears green. Several operators organize snorkeling trips with Basking Sharks. The visibility in the sea is between 7-20 meters and much better in Cornwall than in Scotland. However, with swell, it's difficult to spot them, and the visibility is quite bad.
Quick Facts About the Basking Sharks
- They are feeding half a ton of plankton
- The liver has the size of a car
- They were hunted almost to extinction for their liver to get the valuable oil and the fins
- It is the second largest fish in the world after the whale shark and not dangerous
- Growing up to 12 meters
- There is still a lot to discover about them. No one has ever seen one of these sharks mating or giving birth.
- Booking sea safaris and snorkeling in Newquay.
- Booking Atlantic Diving and Basking Sharks snorkel trips located in Newquay.
Nearby Must-Visit Places
- Minack Theatre; open March-Oct. 9.30 am - 5 pm and Nov.-Feb. 10 - 3.30 pm
- Lanyon Quoit; It is believed to be the buried chamber of a mound. Location Google Maps
- Men-an-Tol; dated back 3000-4000 years ago. Location Google Maps
(updated by When to be Where)