Giant basking sharks have reappeared off the coast of southern California in numbers not seen in decades. “The sight just takes your breath away – it’s magic,” said Lotti Keenan, who saw nearly a dozen basking sharks while on a whale-watching cruise in April. Three of them circled the boat. “We knew this was such a rare thing. And people on the boat were screaming with excitement – it was like you were at a soccer game.” The sharks, the second largest fish in the world, were grazing along the coast, gliding slowly through the water, their cavernous mouths hanging wide open so they could catch krill and plankton. A century ago, basking sharks along the west coast numbered in the hundreds or even in the thousands. The marine behemoths can grow more than 30ft long and weigh more than 10,000 pounds, said Heidi Dewar, a biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration based in La Jolla, California. A basking shark in the waters off southern California. Photograph: Courtesy of Lotti Keenan But by the 1960s, they were a rare sight. Many were fished for their liver oil, for human consumption and for use in animal feed. In […]

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