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Baskers' laconic image challenged

Copyright: Youen Jacob

Cows 'as fast as wolves'

The basking shark - a formidable icon of the Manx seas - is grappling with an identity crisis.

The languid giants, identifiable as Cetorhinus maximus, are a familiar sight around local waters in the summer months, and are widely studied.

Manx Basking Shark Watch are one of the leading groups in the field, carrying out ongoing research and satellite tagging work.

The sharks are most commonly pictured with mouths wide open, dorsal fin protruding through the water's surface, as they quietly feed on plankton around the Island's coastline.

But recent research off the Irish Coast shows the animals can in fact swim as fast as Great White Sharks, and have been spotted 'breaching': that is, leaping clear of the water.

Senior lecturer in Marine Biology from Queen's University in Belfast, Dr Jonathan Houghton, says it's not yet clear why they do this:

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