Born Free

Swansea Valley Holiday Cottages are proud supporters of the Born Free Foundation’s Basking Shark Campaign. A resident of Welsh waters, the basking shark is the world’s second largest fish.

Since 2001, the Born Free Foundation has been sponsoring the work of basking shark expert, Colin Speedie, and his volunteer research team, as they identify sites of high importance to basking sharks in UK waters and gather essential information about basking shark behaviour and ecology. This will provide vital information on shark distribution, population size, site fidelity and migration.

The basking shark can grow to over 10m in length and seven tonnes in weight. Harmless and slow-moving, the far-ranging basking shark feeds exclusively on zooplankton, cruising slowly with its mouth wide open filtering water through gill rakers. It is estimated that it takes in around 1,482,000 litres of water an hour.

Basking sharks are very vulnerable to over-exploitation in fisheries due to their late sexual maturity (18 years), low fecundity (4-5 ‘pups’ every 3-4 years) and long lives (50 years). The species has been exploited for centuries for their flesh, skin and liver oil, but the driving force behind current fisheries is the high value placed on their dorsal fins, cartilage and meat primarily in the Far East.

Despite protection in British waters, internationally their numbers have drastically declined due to unmonitored commercial exploitation. 2002 proved to be a pivotal year for the UK’s largest regular wild visitor following the UK Government’s successful proposal to place the basking shark on CITES* Appendix II, at the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties in November. This listing ensured that international trade and fisheries must now be monitored and regulated, and that depleted stocks are allowed to recover. All countries trading in basking shark parts will now be obliged to keep proper records of the level of trade they are involved in.