Last time we checked in with the Emerald Isle's famous basking sharks, they were getting airborne. And now, with a bit of help from BBC Two, our eyes are in the skies.


This gorgeous drone footage was captured during filming for the channel's upcoming series "Wild Ireland: The Edge of the World".

Second in size only to whale sharks, basking sharks are among the largest fish in the sea – they can reach an impressive 11 metres (33 ft)! And while slightly less gargantuan lengths of five to seven metres are the average, even a shark of that size is an impressive sight. 

BBC host Colin Stafford-Johnson is correct in assuming the basking sharks aren't socialising in this clip. Instead, the most likely scenario is that they've met up in search of tasty plankton. Swimming with mouths wide open, the sharks filter the tiny crustaceans from the surrounding water. This so-called "ram" or "passive" filter-feeding tactic is shared by other ocean giants, including the rarely seen megamouth shark

Nose-to-tail following and parallel swimming are also thought to be linked to courtship, but because these sharks are little studied we really don't know for sure.

Thanks to their docile nature and relatively slow cruising speed, basking sharks are easy to encounter on the water – which might also explain their link to stories of sea monsters. The traditional name for the lumbering creatures is Ainmhí Sheoil ("the beast with the sail"), and the name for known sighting hotspots – Gleann na bPéist – roughly translates to "valley of the sea serpent". 

While paddling past the largest sharks in the North Atlantic sounds scary, these gentle giants are anything but. 

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