Basking shark with  mouth wide open off of English coast

Basking shark

Basking sharks are one of the largest sharks of the world's temperate oceans. Only the mighty whale shark is bigger. Despite a superficial similarity to the fearsome great white shark and a massive jaw one metre wide, basking sharks are actually harmless filter feeders. They use more than 5,000 gill rakers to strain plankton from around 1.5 million litres of water per hour. Basking sharks are born travellers, covering large distances in search of food, at the very leisurely pace of only three miles per hour. There is only one species of basking shark.

Did you know?
Eight tonne basking sharks can filter a thousand tonnes of sea water every hour for tiny plankton.

Scientific name: Cetorhinus maximus

Rank: Species

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Distribution

The Basking shark can be found in a number of locations including: Mediterranean, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Basking shark distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2005

Classified by: IUCN 3.1

Classification

  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Cartilaginous fish
  5. Sharks
  6. Mackerel sharks
  7. Cetorhinidae
  8. Cetorhinus
  9. Basking shark

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