Shark decides to take up lesson in paddle boarding - in the harbour

Handout photo dated 14/04/21 of a basking shark that was spotted in Torquay marina.

The basking shark in Torquay marina - Credit: PA

Paddle boarders in Torquay harbour were joined  by an unusual -  and somewhat scary - recruit during a lesson.

A 12ft basking shark decided to grace the paddlers with its presence while out on the Torbay waters last week.

While on a lesson with instructors Owin Wong and Olly Latto from Torquay paddle-boarding centre WeSup, the group entered the Marina only to be welcomed by two fins poking above the surface.

At first, they thought they had spotted two Dolphins circling in the water.

But then one boarder revealed: "That was until we heard passers by shouting ‘Shark, Shark!’ from the harbour wall above."

Owin and Olly were quick off the mark, calmly instructing the boarders to lower to their knees and keep still to make sure the animal wasn’t spooked by any movement.

The boarder said: "Thanks to Owin’s incredible wildlife knowledge, he was able to assure the group that basking sharks are harmless to humans and rallied the group to slowly head back to the centre, leaving the shark in peace to roam the harbour. On our return however, the basking shark began to follow the group, weaving between and underneath our paddle boards."

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The encounter was captured on video, which shows the magnificent 12ft creature approach and mingle in-between the paddlers before drifting back calmly into the Ocean.

Despite being able to grow as large as 40ft, basking sharks are completely harmless to humans and are often found calmly circling groups of divers and boats.

As filter feeders, they have no desire to eat humans and instead, their diet mainly consists of zooplankton. Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the world and are now considered a vulnerable species, sadly facing an extreme risk of extinction in the wild.

Onlookers questioned how the paddle-boarding group were able to stay so calm sharing the water with a shark on a paddle-board. The paddler said: "Thanks to Owin and Olly’s outstanding paddle-boarding knowledge and professionalism, the group were able to enjoy the one-in-a-lifetime experience."