Shark tales – what our readers think

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Photographs of what appear to be sizeable basking sharks landed at Ardrishaig slipway and published in the May 4 edition of the Argyllshire Advertiser have prompted a good response from readers.

The photographs, possibly from the 1930s, were taken from an album that once belonged to the grandmother of Mary MacDonald and Alma McGuinness from Ardrishaig.

Posting on the Argyllshire Advertiser Facebook page, John Fisher gave his view: ‘From time to time, basking sharks were caught in the fishermen’s nets. I remember being taken to see a similar event on the same slipway and rubbing the skin of the shark. It was like extremely rough sandpaper.

‘They would have been towed out and disposed of behind Duncuan Island, off Ardrishaig, after being weighted down with heavy objects.

‘I think this photo could be circa 1950? This could be the very shark that I was taken to see.’

In another bit of detail, he added: ‘The stance poles for drying the nets are shown on the top left of the image, hence the origin of the name The Stances.’

Graham Thomas drew comparison to photographs in the book by Gavin Maxwell ‘Harpoon at a Venture’ (1952) based on his basking shark fishery venture based on Soay. Mr Thomas said: ‘These creatures have a huge liver which is full of oil and for that they were hunted and killed, even though little use was then made of the rest of the carcass.’

From Tarbert, Ian MacIntyre recalls boats fishing for basking sharks.

‘I think there were two boats that fished for sharks, one called the Dusky Maid,’ recalled Mr MacIntyre.

‘They cut them up and landed them at battery beach, where the ferry slip is now. I am fairly certain the Dusky Maid had a harpoon on her deck.’

Andrew Kerr, meanwhile, cast doubt on the identity of the species in the photograph. ‘I think by looking at the tail they are a minke whales,’ he wrote.


The sharks (or whales?) landed at Ardrishaig Pier near the slipway – with an audience. no_a51OldArdrishaig05-1

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