The number of basking sharks — one of the biggest fish in the ocean — seen off the British Isles has increased since 1980, suggesting populations of the animal may expanding in the area, a new study finds.
More medium-size and large sharks have also been spotted, suggesting that the population is aging — a good sign for this slow-growing, vulnerable species, according to a statement from the University of Exeter in England.
There used to be many more basking sharks in the northeast Atlantic, but their numbers plummeted because they were hunted for their liver oil. More than 81,000 animals were killed between 1952 and 2004, according to the statement. Large-scale hunting ended in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, though it continued at low levels in Norway until 2000.