Basking shark

Species profile

Name: the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second-largest species of shark after the whale shark.

Appearance: basking sharks are a greyish-brown colour. They are easily recognised by their cavernous jaws which can reach up to 1 metre wide.

Size: they typically reach around 8 metres long. The largest on record was caught in a herring net in 1851. It measured an incredible 12 metres and weighed 16 tonnes!

Diet: basking sharks are filter feeders which sieve out plankton, small fish, and invertebrates through their large mouths. It has been calculated that they can filter up to 450 tonnes of water per hour.

Did you know: despite their large size and threatening appearance, basking sharks are not aggressive and are harmless to humans. They are slow-moving filter feeders. The name ‘basking shark’ comes from their habitat of feeding at the water’s surface and appearing to bask in the warmer waters. They are slow-moving sharks and don’t move out of the way of approaching boats. Basking sharks have the smallest weight-for-weight brain size of any shark, reflecting their slow-moving, passive lifestyles.

Location: basking sharks are migratory species that are found in all of the world’s temperate oceans. They are often seen close to shore feeding at the surface.

Where to see basking sharks

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see basking sharks in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
West Cork
very high
very good
very low

Photo credit: 12019 under a Creative Commons licence from Pixabay

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