The shark hunters of the Hebrides

They were hunted in Scottish water for at least 200 years, chiefly for the gallons of valuable oil found in their livers. Basking sharks became a lucrative catch with fragile island communities often investing heavily in the equipment required to land one of the beasts, which typically measure 30ft long. Naturalist Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water, was amongst Scotland’s most prolific shark hunters after buying the Isle of Soay off Skye following World War Two and setting up a processing plant to handle the lucrative liver oil, known as squalene. It is said that the average-sized basking shark contains around 400kg to 500kg of oil, then used for lighting and now more commonly found in cosmetics and toiletries, with the butter-coloured liver making up a quarter of its body weight. Read the story here 13:47

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