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August 12, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Local Shark Week: 25-foot rare shark seen in Puget Sound

A 25-foot basking shark was spotted in Puget Sound over the weekend. (Gina Coale)

A 25-foot basking shark was spotted in Puget Sound over the weekend. (Grace Coale)

Grace Coale, 19, wasn’t scared when she saw a 3-foot shark fin headed toward her fishing boat.

She didn’t even scream.

“I was really excited,” said Coale, who was fishing with her father near Meadowdale Wharf.

She was so excited she leaned in closer to get a better look: The Edmonds native had spotted a 25-foot-long basking shark, a rare species in Puget Sound. She had to get pictures, she said.

Dr. Heidi Dewar, fishery-research biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), confirmed Coale’s photos were of a basking shark.

Basking sharks average about 30 feet long, making them the largest found in Puget Sound.

They aren’t historically rare to the Sound, but hunting and bycatching have resulted in only a limited number in the area, Dewar said.

Canada had an eradication program in the 1900s, which allowed sharks to be killed if they were caught in salmon nets, Dewar said.

To help eliminate basking sharks, fishermen attached blades to their boats and sailed through areas with large numbers of the sharks, she said.

Dewar said anyone who sees a basking shark is asked to call 858-334-2884 or email NOAA at basking.shark@noaa.gov

For more information about sharks, visit NOAA Fisheries.  Also, it’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, Aug. 10-16. Go to discovery.com for programming.

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Comments | More in General news | Topics: basking shark, NOAA, Puget Sound

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