Human Impacts

Dead Basking Shark © Rory Goodall.Although Basking Sharks are now the most heavily protected shark in UK waters, and the species is now listed as a Prohibited Species to all commercial fishing vessels in EU waters, they continue to face a number of threats from human activities.

On occasion Basking Sharks can become entangled in fishing nets and ropes. Unless fishermen are on hand to quickly release the shark, the sharks will often die.  Some sharks do disentangle themselves, with scarring and abrasions from nets sometimes visible on the leading edge of the dorsal fin.

Propeller and boat strike remain a serious hazard for Basking Sharks, particularly in summer months when they are actively feeding at the surface. Basking Sharks rarely evade approaching boats and as a consequence commonly display scarring, and sometimes horrific injuries, on their dorsal fins from boat and propeller-strikes.

Basking Sharks are also susceptible to disturbance and harassment by people.  In the excitement of observing these fantastic creatures there are often reports of Basking Sharks being struck by boats or jet-ski’s, and being disturbed by water-users. As well as potential physical harm to the sharks, water-users can also disrupt feeding and other critical aspects of the shark’s life-history such as courting and mating behaviour.

Reporting collisions, entanglement and harassment
The Shark Trust is investigating the extent to which Basking Sharks are affected by entanglement, boat-strike and harassment. As such we are very keen to receive reports and images of these incidents or injuries to sharks, which you can submit via our online contact form.

Learning more about how Basking Sharks are affected by human activity will encourage better strategies for managing and protecting the sharks in our waters.