Thursday, September 2, 2010

Basking Shark

We've learned about the world's largest shark, so now lets move on to number two! Basking Sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) can be found in arctic and temperate coastal areas around the world. They are extremely migratory, following the plankton supply during the seasons, and can grow over 12m in length.

Image Source
That's right. Plankton. Like Whale Sharks, Basking Sharks feed off of tiny little creatures, rather than hunting and consuming larger prey as many of sharks do. They swim around with their large mouths open, ingesting whatever finds its way in. They then close their mouth and trap all of the food with help from gill rakers. All of the excess water is then expelled through their gills. They do have many teeth, but they are small and largely unused. Basking Sharks give birth to live young, making them ovoviviparous.

Unfortunately, Basking Shark populations declined dramatically in the 20th century, due to overfishing. These Shrkas have extremely large livers that make up 25% of their overall weight. The livers are vitamin rich and contain oil that is a major motivation for hunting. The species is currently considered Vulnerable, and are unfortunately still being hunted illegally. Basking Sharks are not dangerous to humans.

1 comment:

  1. It has always amazed me how the Basking Shark (and the Whale Shark) are so large yet feed off of the tiniest prey items. It is probably good that they aren't true carnivores as I think everyone would be afraid to touch the ocean.

    I also love how this shark is unique by being ovoviviparous.

    Great post on an amazing animal!!

    ReplyDelete

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