There is something deliciously disruptive about the idea of a benign, basking shark.
The image of a slow, plump shark that just wants to cruise around and gobble up plankton goes directly contrary to the hollywoodesque myths that make humans fear and hate sharks.
The truth is that sharks are extremely vulnerable species which have been fished around the world without any limitations for decades. Globally, 21% of sharks are threatened with extinction according to the IUCN Red List. In some areas, the figures are even worse, like the Northeast Atlantic with 26% threatened, precisely the area where the mellow basking shark roams around .
This is why it was so wonderful to read an article about lots of healthy basking sharks being spotted off the Cornish coast (map inserted below). I would like to dream that maybe we can not only turn around our myths and misconceptions about sharks, but also allow these creatures to bask, hunt, and just… well, be sharks.
Photo by Chris Gotschalk, donated to public domain by its author.