06-05-06 Shark Ahoy
As some of you may know I haven't been very well lately and while confined to my bed I took the opportunity to catch up on some reading. One of the books I've been reading is "The Sea My Hunting Ground" by Anthony Watkins.

Now this is quite an old book, written in the 1950s, that tells Watkins's story of setting up a shark hunting and processing enterprise, based at Carradale, both immediately before and after the Second World War.

Once caught (no easy task in itself) the sharks were brought back to the factory and carved-up to remove the liver. This was then boiled-up to extract the very valuable oil it contained. A very smelly process, hence why the factory was located so far from the village.

[The Sea My Hunting Ground]
[Shark Hunting Harpoon from Carradale]Sadly nothing remains of Watkins's factory which was sited at Blackport, just to the north of Port Na Cuile and beyond the end of the Shore Road. The building itself burned down some years ago and, as we found out this morning whilst exploring with our children, the site is heavily overgrown.

It's an interesting read, not least because of the difference in attutudes between then and now, but also because many of the men Watkins employed were Carradale men and the names are familiar to most people that live here.

Basking Sharks are, of course, the second largest fish in the sea and grow to more than 30ft in length and 10 tonnes in weight. They're not especially dangerous to people, however, as they're plankton feeders, although they have been known to capsize or sink boats when sounding or leaping from the sea as in the much reported Carradale Incident of 1937.

They're far less common these days and if you do see one it's probably best to give it a wide berth.
Incidentally, my copy of the book came to me from the USA via Ebay. It's an interesting read and contains some excellent photographs.

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