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North Yorkshire: Basking shark stranded off Filey beach put down after failed rescue effort

·2-min read
The shark was eventually put down by a vet. Pic: Hazel Lewis

A 15ft (4.4m) basking shark stranded off a beach in North Yorkshire has had to be put down after a huge rescue effort failed.

The shark was stranded alive in shallow waters at Filey beach on Thursday evening and lifeboat crews and rescue specialists tried to help guide it back into deeper water.

Rescuers from British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) said a large crowd of people had gathered to try to assist the creature when its medics arrived, following a call at about 6pm suggesting a shark was in difficulty.

BDMLR said: "With the help of the local Coastguard and RNLI teams, together they managed to guide the 4.4 metre-long creature back into the water as the tide came in.

"Unfortunately, the shark appeared to be struggling as it was listing consistently over to its right-hand side and circling in the shallows, sometimes needing support from the rescuers.

"Potentially this could indicate it was weak, unwell or may even have suffered some brain damage during the process of live stranding."

The BDMLR team said the animal continued to restrand itself and was eventually put to sleep last night by a vet.

Footage filmed by people in the crowds on the beach and nearby cliffs showed a number of rescuers in the water dwarfed by the shark's huge dorsal fin.

The charity said the shark is thought to have been a male and was around the size and age where it would have been maturing into an adult.

It is possible a lack of oxygen passing through its gills in the shallow water could have explained its behaviour, it said.

Basking sharks are most often seen on the west coast of the UK from spring until autumn.

The animals, which are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, are the second largest fish, after the whale shark, and can grow to 10m (30ft) or more.

They are not a danger to people as they feed only on plankton - swimming along with their huge mouth open and using specialised "rakers" in the gills to extract their food as it passes through them.

Basking sharks are thought to live for more than 50 years.

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