Basking Shark

Today, we’ll talk about the world’s largest shark. It’s known as the Basking Shark. Their feeding habits are well-known. They behave in a non-aggressive manner. Are they, however, human friends, or do they pose no threat to humans? Read this blog to learn more. 

Basking Shark

  • It is the solitary member of this family that is still alive.
  • It is the second-largest fish in the ocean, after the whale shark, and it feeds on microscopic planktonic creatures and plants, just like that species. 
  • It possesses a conical snout and gill slits that run virtually the whole circumference of its head. Gill rakers are structures that are associated with the gills.

Scientific Name 

Cetorhinus maximus

Life History

  • They do not hibernate, contrary to popular belief, and are active all year.
  • Basking sharks migrate to depths of 900 meters (3,000 feet) in the winter to dine on deep-water plankton.

Biology

  • It is one of the most well-known shark species.
  • It is distinguished from other species by its gigantic size, wide gill slits that nearly encircle the skull, and lunate caudal fin.
  • It has a conical snout and many massive gill rakers that have been adapted for filter feeding. 

Feature

It is the world’s second-largest fish. Read on to learn more about their size, how they seem, and how much they weigh:

Size

  • Adults can grow to be 6–8 m (20–26 ft) long.

Color

  • Its color is usually grayish-brown, and it has a mottled look.
  • The caudal (tail) fin has a crescent form with a robust lateral keel.
  • The teeth of the basking shark are tiny and plentiful, with one hundred teeth per row being common.

Weight

  • They weigh about 11,000lbs. 

Behavior

  • Except for certain information acquired through observations, little is known about the behavior of the basking shark.
  • The name “basking” came from the fact that it spends a lot of time feeding in the sun.
  • According to one idea, it prefers to eat in surface waters when there is abundant plankton in that area of the ocean, and it drops the spines of its gills at the same time. 
  • Despite its size and slowness, the basking shark may breach, jumping completely out of the water at rates of up to 5 meters per second (11 mph). This behavior may be an attempt to remove parasites or commensals.

Food & Diet 

  • It eats only zooplankton, which it collects by opening its mouth and allowing water to pour over its expanded gill holes. Zooplankton in the water is captured in mucus-covered gill rakers.

 Distinguish Characteristic

  • Large gill slits almost surround the head.
  • Bulbous and conical snout
  • Mouth is subterminal and large, with little hooked teeth.
  • On the caudal peduncle, there is a single keel on the caudal fin lunate.

Lifespan

  • It can grow up to 10 meters in length, but the average size is 7-9 meters, and it has a 50-year lifespan.
  • It is a large-ranging migratory species.

Basking Shark Habitat

  • It can be found in all of the world’s oceans, but it favors the subpolar seas and the cold, temperate waters of the continental shelf in general.
  • It was recently revealed, however, that it travels as far south as the equator, residing in warmer waters.
  • Let me tell you something about their habitat, it fluctuates depending on the availability of food.
  • It migrates to cold water areas in the winter after feeding abundantly on copepods in coastal areas throughout the summer. When it goes close to the coast, its large body can be seen below the surface as a result of plankton densities near the surface.

Reproduction

  • They usually with the help of internal fertilization. While it is different in Whale Sharks, they give birth to hundreds of little kids, Basking Shark only have a few enormous babies.
  • They are ovoviviparous, which means that the developing embryos rely on a yolk sac first, rather than a placenta. Their seemingly useless teeth may have aided them in feeding on the mother’s unfertilized oocytes before birth (a behavior known as oophagy).
  • Following the female’s passage into shallow waters, mating is thought to occur in early summer and delivery in late summer.
  • At a length of 4.6–6 m (15–20 ft), the age of maturity is estimated to be between the ages of six and thirteen. Breeding occurs every two to four years, according to experts.

Geographical Distribution 

  • It is a coastal-pelagic species that can be found in both arctic and temperate areas around the world.
  • It stretches from Newfoundland to Florida, and from southern Brazil to Argentina in the western Atlantic, as well as from Iceland and Norway to Senegal in the eastern Atlantic, which includes parts of the Mediterranean.
  • In the western Pacific, it can be found off the coasts of Japan, China, and Korea, as well as western and southern Australia and New Zealand’s coastlines, while in the eastern Pacific, it can be found from the Gulf of Alaska to the Gulf of California, and from Ecuador to Chile. 

Predators

  • They have few predators.
  • The remains of these sharks have been known to be scavenged by white sharks.
  • Off the coasts of California and New Zealand, killer whales have been seen feasting on basking sharks.
  • Lampreys are frequently spotted connected to them, despite their inability to pierce the shark’s tough skin.

Migration

  • Recent research suggests that basking sharks travel mostly north to south along Europe’s continental shelf and separately along North America’s east coast.
  • During the winter, they might travel thousands of kilometers in search of plankton blooms.
  • Rather than shedding and renewing their gill rakers all at once, they do so regularly.

Threats & Conservation

  • To obtain meat, oil, liver, cartilage, and fins they have been hunted extensively.
  • This poses a major threat to this creature. According to the IUCN Red List, this creature is listed as a “Vulnerable” species.
  • Populations have been dramatically reduced for the past 20 years and have yet to recover.
  • Fortunately, the situation alerted several countries, and the species is now protected in some countries’ territorial seas, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand.
  • Commercial fishing of this species is also prohibited in several areas.

Biggest Barking Shark

  • The world’s largest Basking Shark was discovered in the Bay of Fundy, Canada, in 1851, and reached a massive 40.3ft (12.3m) in length — roughly the same as a London bus.

Basking Shark Mouth Closed

  • The answer to the question of whether basking sharks can close their mouths is yes.
  • They must do so for their gills to filter out surplus water.

Basking Shark vs Great White

  • In comparison, the Great White features two separate color versions on top and bottom: black or gray on top and white on the bottom.
  • Furthermore, Basking Shark have big, conspicuous gills that encircle their heads, but the Great White’s gills aren’t as visible.

Interaction with People

  • They are non-aggressive and pose no threat to humans in general, but they are enormous creatures with incredibly rough skin, so any encounters should be approached with caution.

Is Basking Shark Dangerous To Humans?

  • They are fairly tolerant of divers and boats and are not regarded as dangerous to the passive viewer.
  • Regardless, its strength, and power must be recognized (there are reports of sharks attacking boats after being harpooned).
  • Contact with its skin should also be avoided because its huge dermal denticles have been known to harm divers and scientists.

Reference Link

Basking Shark-FAQ

What is a Basking Shark?

It is the second largest fish in the ocean, after the whale shark, and it feeds on microscopic planktonic creatures and plants, just like that species. Water intake is aided by the fish’s forward motion, which allows the mouth to extend wide.

How big is a Basking Shark?

They are about 11,000 lbs.

What does a Basking Shark eat?

It eats only zooplankton, which it collects by opening its mouth and allowing water to pour over its expanded gill holes. Zooplankton in the water is captured in mucus-covered gill rakers.

What does a Basking Shark look like?

It has a big, light grey body that is darker on top and paler on the underside. On its back, it bears a big black triangular dorsal fin.

Why are Basking Sharks killed?

The basking shark has long been hunted in the United Kingdom and Ireland for its liver oil (squalene), which has commercial use, and its fins, which are shipped to the Far East for shark fin soup.

How fast do Basking Shark Swim?

A basking shark measuring 5 meters (16 feet) long can filter up to 500 short tons (450 t) of water per hour while swimming at a speed of 0.85 meters per second (3.1 km/h; 1.9 mph).