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Rare sighting of enormous basking sharks off Ventura coast leaves wildlife enthusiasts in awe

What initially seemed like an ordinary marine sighting soon escalated into a remarkable encounter. Andrea Mills, Education Coordinator for “Island Packers” in Ventura, claims to have witnessed it all. 

“We were taking people out to Santa Cruz Island,” Mills recounted from one of the company’s boats. “It was a nice, flat ocean. We could see fins at the surface.”

 Mills and her team realized they were observing something unique: massive basking sharks.

“These were probably in the 25-foot range. Second largest shark on the planet,” Mills exclaimed, as she and her colleagues hurried to capture the moment through photographs.

“They’re so beautiful. They look prehistoric,” Mills added, emphasizing the awe-inspiring nature of the creatures.

To provide perspective on the sheer size of these basking sharks, wildlife cameraman Adam Ernster captured video footage with his drone. Ernster’s footage juxtaposed the colossal sharks with a nearby boat, revealing their immense scale.

“This is not cause for alarm, correct?” Mills reassured, dispelling fears of aggression. “Correct. They’re not ‘man-eaters,’ by any means. In fact, most sharks aren’t man-eaters.”

Unlike their more notorious relatives, such as great whites and tigers, basking sharks exhibit a more passive nature, primarily feeding on plankton with their enormous mouths. Adults of the species can grow up to 45 feet in length and weigh a staggering 10,000 pounds.

“To see them live and thriving out here, feeding on plankton, was pretty special,” Mills remarked, reflecting on the significance of the encounter.

However, the sighting also underscores the precarious status of basking sharks, which are listed as endangered species internationally. Their feeding habits near the water’s surface often put them at risk of entanglement in fishing nets or collisions with boat propellers.

Andrea Mills recalled a time when sightings of basking sharks were more commonplace in the 70s and 80s, contrasting with the rarity of such encounters today. Witnessing a pair of these majestic creatures under these circumstances was indeed a rare treat, highlighting the importance of conservation efforts to protect these vulnerable giants in our oceans.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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