TARBERT, Scotland, Jan. 8 (UPI) — Basking sharks are making a comeback off Scotland after being hunted for generations for their livers and fins, researchers said.
The sharks have been seen in large groups, displaying mating behavior, in Gunna Sound between Coll and Tiree and around the islands of Canna and Hyskier, the Scotsman reported Friday.
Eighty-three were spotted recently one day off Canna and 94 off Coll, a report from the Scottish Natural Heritage said.
During courtship the sharks leap clear of the water and swim nose to tail or in contact with each other in a trance-like state, said Heritage spokeswoman Suzanne Henderson.
At maturity, the sharks are as long as 36 feet and can weigh seven tons. The sharks, which can live to be 50-years-old, swim close to the surface to feed on plankton and appear to be basking, hence their name.
Their numbers were depleted by generations of hunters who sought them for the high oil content in their large livers and for their enormous fins, considered a delicacy in Asia.
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