Basking shark swims alongside wildlife ranger near beach

Craig Nisbet spotted a shark fin in the water before grabbing his camera in the hope of photographing it in the Outer Hebrides.

A wildlife ranger captured amazing footage of an endangered basking shark – as it swam along next to him.

Craig Nisbet, 42, spotted a shark fin in the water and watched the animal swimming around before grabbing his snorkelling gear and camera in the hope of photographing it

The two-metre shark swam right next to Mr Nisbet but he said he wasn’t scared as he snapped pictures of the young creature at Village Bay on the island of Hirta, Outer Hebrides.

Basking sharks migrate from waters off west Africa to Scotland’s west coast where they gather to breed.

Mr Nisbet, a seabird and marine ranger with the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said the shark’s fins and snout were visible from the beach.

Basking sharks are the world’s second largest fish, after whale sharks, growing up ten metres long.

But despite their size the harmless sharks only feed on plankton which they filter out of the water, swimming slowly back and forth with their mouths wide open.

Mr Nisbet, who captured the footage last week said: “There were a few yachts in the bay and we saw visitors watching something in the water and then we saw the shark fin.

“I decided to get in the water because I knew I could position myself so that I would disturb it or cause it any distress.

“It was exhilarating rather than scary to be in the water so close to it.

“I have never been the water with one before, so it was a really exciting experience for me.

“It displayed some really cool behaviour that you can’t see when you watch them from above the water.

“The water was really murky with plankton so when it’s mouth is open it’s filtering the zooplankton out of the water and then when it’s closed its swallowing it.

“It was amazing to see, I have never seen the feeding process before.”

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