The Flemish research institute Inbo (Institute for Nature in Bosonderzoek) announced last Thursday that it had spotted a basking shark off the Belgian coast, during a bird-counting operation the previous Tuesday. The fish, which can grow to over 10 metres long, was observed near the Oosthinder sandbank. It is rare to see such an animal in Belgian waters. It is thought the basking shark was a 4-metre-long female.
“These animals live in the areas with either a polar or temperate climate and although they are used to travelling long distances, rarely come to the North Sea,” said Jan Seys from the Flemish Sea Institute. “The shark feeds mainly on plankton and swim through the water with its mouth open, filtering the water,” added Jan Seys. “The basking shark has no teeth so it is completely harmless. Man is more of a danger to it than it is to man.”
It is unclear what could have prompted the animal to swim into Belgian waters. Without drawing any conclusions, Jan Seys indicated over the past 5 years, this species has been spotted in the North Sea about once a year.
Oscar Schneider (Source: Belga)