Facts about Basking shark

We found 16 facts about Basking shark

Cetorhinus maximus

The basking shark is the second largest known fish in the world after the whale shark. Its body length is impressive, reaching ten meters, and its weight ranges from four to six tons. However, this giant is a harmless fish, as it feeds exclusively on zooplankton. It moves calmly, filtering hectoliters of seawater with its huge mouth.

Basking shark
Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is a species of large marine cartilaginous fish.

Cartilaginous fishes are a cluster of aquatic vertebrates that includes chimaeras, rays and sharks - a total of about 1,200 species.

The fossil record shows that the existence of sharks has been dated to more than 400 million years ago, rays most likely appeared 200 million years ago, and chimeras about 360 million years ago.

The basking shark is the second largest known fish in the world after the whale shark.

Along with the whale shark (Rhinocodon typus) and the megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios), it is a plankton-eating species.

Basking sharks can reach enormous sizes.

As an adult, the basking shark usually reaches a body length of 6.70 to 8.80 meters, but can reach 10 meters or more. The largest recorded individual measured 12.27 meters and was caught in a herring net in the Bay of Fundy in Canada in 1851. The weight of this fish exceeded 9 tons.

Basking sharks weigh approximately 5.2 tons.

The basking shark's fat, large liver allows it to float in the water. It makes up about 25% of its body weight. 

The basking shark's body coloration is almost monochromatic - dark gray, gray-brown to black, with the back darker than the underside. There are often light or dark patches on the back, sides of the body and under the head.

The underside of the fins is also dark gray, but in juveniles the fins are white with a clear delineation of dark areas. In very rare cases, basking sharks can develop albinism.

The pectoral fins of the basking shark are very broad.

It has two dorsal fins, the first of which, shaped like an almost regular isosceles triangle, is noticeably longer than the second. The base of the first dorsal fin is in front of the base of the ventral fins. The second dorsal fin is almost opposite the anal fin and almost equal in size.

The caudal fin is crescent-shaped.

The basking shark's most distinctive feature is its five pairs of giant gill slits.

They encircle its body behind its head like a collar and almost meet at the top and bottom. 

Basking sharks have a cigar-shaped body.

For this reason, they are often confused with the great white shark. However, they differ in the shape of the jaw, which in the basking shark is cave-shaped, up to 1 meter wide, equipped with 4-9 rows of fine, conical modified teeth located in the mucosa. The total number of teeth can be up to 3,000.

Basking sharks feed on zooplankton.

To obtain food, they often swim below the surface with their mouths wide open. As they swim slowly, they filter plankton out of the water, which is caught in the weirs of their gills and then ingested. Zooplankton, mainly copepods, are captured in mucus-covered teeth that are flushed into the esophagus when the mouth is closed.

The basking shark is the only type of filter-feeding shark that feeds without ingesting water, simply by passing a current through its throat.

An adult basking shark requires up to 500 liters of zooplankton per day to meet its nutritional needs.

It is capable of filtering approximately 1800-2000 tons of water per hour.

Basking sharks are generally solitary or gather in small schools.

At times, there can be an aggregation of more than 100 sharks. They move slowly, filtering plankton, extending their dorsal fin out of the water and even flipping their bellies. These fish swim at a speed of about 3.7 km/h and do not tend to swim away from approaching vessels.

Despite their slowness, they are capable of sprinting and jumping completely out of the water.

These jumps may be an attempt to rid their bodies of ectoparasites, including sea lampreys that bite into the shark's skin without penetrating it. Basking sharks are also attacked by the cookiecutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis), which uses its teeth to bite off pieces of flesh from large fish and marine mammals.

Basking sharks have essentially no natural predators.

They are known to be attacked by orcas, but few predators hunt these sharks. There is some information that great white sharks feed on the carcasses of basking sharks.

Basking sharks are oviparous. Pups hatch from eggs that mature in the mother's body.

The embryos feed on egg yolk and there is no placental connection to the mother. The number of litters and the size of the newborns are unknown, but the gestation period is thought to be between 1 and 3.5 years.

Males probably reach sexual maturity at 4-5 meters in length, corresponding to an age of 12-16 years. Females mature at 8.1-9.8 meters.

Basking sharks have an average life span of about 50 years.

Despite their enormous size, basking sharks are not a threat to humans.

They allow divers to approach them at close range. However, humans do pose a threat to basking sharks. Historically, this species was considered a valuable food fish due to its slowness, lack of aggression and abundance. The catch of these fish reached its peak about 100 to 150 years ago. They were hunted for the fat extracted from their livers - a medium-sized shark yielded 300 to 800 liters of fat, and in some cases more than 2,000 liters, as the huge liver of the basking shark contains up to 60% fat. They were hunted with a harpoon.

Today, the need for basking shark fat has greatly declined.

Find out more ...
Basking sharks are considered by scientists to be an endangered species.

Due to its slow growth, long gestation period, low reproductive rate and late sexual maturity, the species is not able to recover quickly, so it was deemed necessary to surround it with protection. The species was added to the Red List of Threatened Species in 2005. It is currently classified as endangered.

In the past, basking sharks were known as sea serpents.

Because these sharks sometimes swim in large groups on the surface, occasionally one behind the other, with their dorsal fins raised, such a sight was interpreted as a sea serpent or other swimming monster.

Hungry for more facts?

Similar topics

19 facts about lemon shark
19 facts about lemon shark
Negaprion brevirostris
The lemon shark is one of over 1,000 species of shark. It has a very gentle nature and thus is one of the most popular among shark divers. Lemon shark ...
19 facts about Goblin shark
19 facts about Goblin shark
Mitsukurina owstoni
It is very little known about these sharks as they are deep-sea-dwelling creatures. So far, no one managed to keep them in captivity alive for long en ...
18 facts about tiger sharks
18 facts about tiger sharks
Galeocerdo cuvier
Tiger sharks are one of the deadliest of all known shark species. Although they do not normally prey on humans, they will not hesitate to attack. They ...
17 facts about viper dogfish
17 facts about viper dogfish
Viper shark
The viper dogfish is one of the rarest species of dogfish. All knowledge possessed by scientists comes from observing specimens in Japan, and thus the ...
22 facts about hammerhead sharks
22 facts about hammerhead sharks
Most distinctive of all sharks
These peculiar fish are common worldwide. Although, like most sharks, they have bad press; they do not include humans in their diet, attacking only wh ...
26 facts about Northern pike
26 facts about Northern pike
Esox lucius
It is one of the best-known freshwater fishes. The predatory northern pike is equipped with sharp and long teeth, perfect for holding prey. Inattentiv ...
15 facts about Sea lamprey
15 facts about Sea lamprey
Vampire fish
Sea lampreys have a very characteristic life cycle. Freshly spawned fish remain in their larval stage - ammocoetes - for several years. During this ti ...
17 facts about blue tang
17 facts about blue tang
Dory the fish
The royal blue tang is a crucial species of coral fish. Already popular marine aquarium addition, it was even further popularized by the animated movi ...

Latest topics

20 facts about beer
20 facts about beer
World’s third most popular beverage
It is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages produced. The first archaeological evidence of brewing dates back 13,000 years ago from the territory of I ...
15 facts about StarCraft
15 facts about StarCraft
The computer game classic of the 1990s
For gamers whose childhood and early youth were in the 1990s, StarCraft can evoke nostalgia. This already classic title lived to see a sequel in 2010, ...
12 facts about capybaras
12 facts about capybaras
The world’s largest rodent and social media star
The capybara, the largest rodent known to us today, is an animal with a very pleasant disposition and appearance, living both an aquatic and terrestri ...
20 facts about Amazon River
20 facts about Amazon River
Its basin covers nearly half of South America
In the year 1500, European explorers stumbled upon one of the most remarkable wonders on the planet: the amazing Amazon River. This majestic waterway ...
13 facts about churro
13 facts about churro
A dessert worth the sin
Churros are known to all lovers of Spanish and Latin American cuisine, but few may realize that their genesis, in all likelihood, took place in the Fa ...
29 facts about Colorado
29 facts about Colorado
Centennial State
Colorado is one of the larger American states, bordered by longitude and latitude. The state is famous for its varied landscape of mountains, forests, ...
18 facts about Roland Garros
18 facts about Roland Garros
French pioneer of aviation who played tennis only a few times in his life
Roland Garros was a French aviator who played an important role in the history of aviation. He began his aviation career in 1909 and achieved many aer ...
24 facts about Sri Lanka
24 facts about Sri Lanka
The “Land of Smiles”
Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Previously, until 1972, both the country and the island on which it lies were known to the world a ...

Similar topics