The Yawl Espaniola: A Close Encounter with Two Basking Sharks

Pauline Oliver first told me about this so I (Jackie Hall)interviewed Martin Birch, skipper of the yawl Espaniola. Martin was sailing off Elby Point when, quite suddenly, 2 sharks appeared 3-4 yards away from the boat on his starboard side. Although there were other people on board only Martin saw this. The two sharks were circling, twisting and intertwined with each other. He says that there was so much splashing that it was impossible to see where one shark ended and the other began. He got the impression that they were so close together that they must have been skin to skin, with no space between them. They were only on the surface for 10-20 seconds and then they sank below the surface. Martin says that unfortunately the detail was not there as it was such a brief surface sighting. He got the impression that they might have been mating but, as he says, the detail was not there so we cannot definitively say this. His main impression was of lots of splashing and that the two sharks were very close together.