Johnny Magory - Basking Shark

Basking Shark-Ainmhí Sheoil

The basking shark is one of the Earth’s giants. Scientifically known as Cetorhinus maximus, the basking shark is the second-largest living shark, behind the whale shark. It is one of three passive sharks that eat plankton by filter feeding. The other two plankton feeders are whale sharks and megamouth sharks. Basking sharks used to travel the world’s oceans in great numbers, but those numbers have been declining steadily for decades and continue to drop. Despite their historical prevalence in the world’s oceans, modern scientists know very little about this gentle giant of the sea.

An average adult basking shark weighs a whopping 10,200 pounds and grows to an average length of 26 feet. The largest ever recorded basking shark was caught in a fisherman’s net in the Bay of Fundy in Canada in 1851. It measured 40.3 feet. No one could weigh it at that time, but it’s guessed the basking shark weighed 45,800 pounds.

Basking sharks are often mistaken for great white sharks. The most significant difference is the basking shark’s massive jaw, measuring more than 3 feet. They also have long gill slits that encircle their entire heads, which they use to feed with the help of hundreds of gill rakers. Typically the basking shark is much longer and thinner than great whites and have smaller eyes.