Donegal shark travels 3,000 miles to coast of Africa

Basking shark
Image caption The basking shark travelled 3,000 miles

A five metre basking shark that spends its summers in Lough Foyle and near Malin Head has been detected off the western coast of Africa.

The shark has been discovered near Senegal, over 3,000 miles away.

It is the first time it has been confirmed where the animals travel to for the northern hemisphere winter.

The research was carried out by the Irish Basking Shark Project, whose co-ordinator, Emmett Johnston, explained why the shark had travelled so far.

"Up until now there have been lots of different theories put forward about the sharks and one was that they hibernated over the winter because there wasn't enough food in the waters around the north Atlantic.

"Other people said they went offshore and they have been tracked offshore in the winter.

"But we have been theorising that they head further south to where the food is, like the larger whales from this area.

"The unusual thing about this is the type of food that they eat.

"It is mainly a type of plankton, insects that are in the sea, but that is not found down there in the tropical waters.

"It is a very different kind of habitat, it is akin to finding a polar bear in the desert.

"It is in stark contrast to the type of waters that they are associated with, like the temperate waters you find up here."