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Australian Wildlife

  Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)





Basking Shark | Cetorhinus maximus photo
Basking Shark

Image by Chris Gotschalk - License: Public Domain.    (view image details)

Basking Shark | Cetorhinus maximus photo
Basking Shark head

Image by NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center - License: Public Domain.    (view image details)



BASKING SHARK FACTS

Description
The Basking Shark is a large shark with five very long gill slits that almost encircle the head. It has two dorsal fins the front one is large and rear is small. The tail is crescent shaped. The mouth is huge and teeth are very small. The snout is pointed. It swims slowly at the surface, often in groups of three or four, or less commonly in groups of up to 100.

Size
length to 10m (reported up to 15m). Weight to 4,000kg. The Basking Shark is the second largest shark after the Whale Shark.

Habitat
Found on continental and island shelves, offshore and often close to land near the surf zone. Sometimes enters enclosed bays. Found at depths from the surface to 2000m.

Food
Filter feeder. Feeds on zooplankton, barnacles, fish eggs. Basking Sharks swim with their mouths open and strain food from the water through their brush-like gill rakers.

Breeding
Ovoviviparous. Gives birth to a litter of 2-3 pups.

Range
The Basking Shark is found in temperate and cool marine waters around the world. In Australia it is most common off the southern coast but has been found from Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, around the south coast and up as far as Port Stephens on the New South Wales coast.

Notes
Generally harmless and inoffensive, but could be potentially dangerous to humans trying to attack or capture it.



Classification
Class:Chondrichthyes
Order:Lamniformes
Family:Cetorhinidae
Genus:Cetorhinus
Species:maximus
Common Name:Basking Shark