Monster With Sails

One of the Irish vernacular names for basking sharks is "ainmhide na seolta" monster with the sails ... from the end of March they can be spotted off the cliffs of the Innisowen Penninsula as they bask near the surface of the water ...

Did you know that to breathe, sharks remove oxygen from the water around them. The water enters the shark's mouth (the shark's nose is used exclusively for smell) and flows over the gills. Inside the gills are hundreds of feathery gill filaments. Each filament in turn has thousands of leaflike lamellae, or flaps, which contain blood vessels. The blood absorbs the oxygen from the incoming water, and the excess water flows back out the shark's body through gill slits. Sharks have between 5 and 7 gills, through which they can ex tract 80 percent of oxygen out of the meager one percent of oxygen that's present in the water.

Yet joy it is! to scorn the dread of death,
To dwell for shining moments in the sun
Of Beauty and sweet Love, to drink one breath
Of a diviner element--though but one;
To reach a higher state
Of being, to explore a new domain;
To leap, and leap again,

Flying Fish: An Ode [excerpt]
Charles Wharton Stork


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