Liscannor Bay was once the home for thousands of sharks – some of which grew to lengths far in excess of four metres.
A new documentary made by Ennistymon based filmmaker, Ken O’Sullivan, will tell the story of the Clare sharks, which were made virtually extinct about 20 years ago.
Just as surfing were beginning to become popular at Lahinch, the local population of porbeagle and blue sharks was decimated almost overnight by the introduction of long-line fishing. The documentary, which is entitled Ireland’s Ocean, will begin on RTÉ 1 this Sunday from 6.30pm.
“The shark population collapsed some time in the mid-90’s with the introduction of long lining.
“This is when boats, primarily from Norway, Spain and France, would put out hundreds of hooks on a long line and leave it attached to a buoy for a week.
“When the come back, all the sharks are dead. There was a 97 per cent collapse in the shark number virtually over night,” said Ken.
“We spend a lot of time looking for sharks for the documentary. We spent five or six days off Loop Head looking for blue sharks but it was very difficult to get close.
“Any time myself or photographer George Karbus got into water they take off. Eventually we got close to a group of about 12 sharks and we had two days shooting with them (pictured right). It was probably the most amazing experience of my time making wildlife films.
“People impression of sharks as monsters is completely false.
“There are 400 species of sharks, only three of them have ever been aggressive to people and none of these have ever been documented in Irish waters.
“We are trying to get that message across to people in the series, when you actually get to witness them in the flesh it is a much different story.
“Beautiful sharks are the most beautiful creatures. They are very weary of human but vary curious. We have to put chum in the water to get them come near us but when they move they are so graceful.”
The documentary also focusses on Moy man, the late Jack Shine, who was the first man in Ireland to fish for shark from the shoreline.
“Jack was the creamery manager up in Moy but he as absolute legend in angling circles.
“Back in the 1960’s he was able to catch sharks with a line at the Green Island (at Rineen) and in Fanore,” continued Ken.
“He was amazing man and so ahead of his time as an angler.”