Basking Shark - Characteristics, Diet and Reproduction

Basking shark: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Sharks are a type of fish with very...

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Sharks are a type of fish with very interesting characteristics. They have a long evolutionary history and were survivors of mass extinction processes that occurred in the planet's geological past. We commonly associate them with super predatory and dangerous animals, however, the first aspect is more true than the second, because although some species may pose a potential risk to humans, there are not that many of them. the diversity of these cartilaginous fish, we find some that escape the aspects mentioned above, one of them is the basking shark.Continue reading this PlanetAnimal file and discover its peculiarities, characteristics and habits!


  • Africa
  • America
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Oceania

Characteristics of the basking shark

Some of the characteristics of the basking shark that we can highlight are:

  • The first particularity of the basking shark (Crétorins maximus) is that it is considered the second largest shark in the world, which makes it the second largest fish in the world, just after the whale shark.
  • Although there are cases where it can exceed 10m, the average size of an adult is between 7 and 8 meters in length.
  • The average weight of these sharks is around 3,900 kg.
  • Males are generally larger than females, so there is a trait of sexual dimorphism.
  • Another peculiarity is that its muzzle is conical and somewhat rounded at the end, which may possibly be white.
  • It has five large gill slits, which almost encircle the head.
  • The gill rows are long, measuring 10 to 12 cm.
  • They are characterized by their 1,200 very small teeth that are 3 to 4 mm long and with a single conical cusp.
  • Each jaw has six rows of teeth.
  • Typical coloration is grayish brown or black, with pale white ventral region, in some cases with some spots.
  • There are reports of some albino specimens.
  • The dorsal fin is triangular, although the edge is blunt in shape; the anal is much larger, similar to the second dorsal, and the caudals are crescent-shaped.

Basking Shark Habitat

The basking shark has a worldwide distribution, so it is a cosmopolitan species, although it is mainly distributed in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, since, in the case of the Indian ocean, it has no reported only from southern Australia, Indonesia and South Africa.

It lives in coastal pelagic areas and although it is common for it to swim on the surface, it can do so vertically to depths of around 1200 meters. When in warm water, it is usually near the surface, but in tropical and equatorial areas, it moves deeper. It prefers waters between 8 and 14° C.

In this other article you will find more information about Where do sharks live?

Habits of the basking shark

The basking shark is a fish with migratory habits, an action it performs mainly for food aspects. So, for example, it stays north as long as food is available and moves south when it dwindles.

Despite its size, it manages to reach high speeds in a short time. In addition, he is able to jump out of the water, it has been indicated that he spreads his tail from the surface up to 182 cm. Apparently this is an act performed mainly by females during mating season.

Due to its migratory behavior, it is not reported as a territorial species, as it does not stay in the same area for long. It usually forms groups, which move together, so it is common to see them in schools. Another peculiarity of the basking shark is that, despite its appearance and size, it poses no risk to humans, since it is not aggressive.

Discover other animals that migrate: why they migrate and examples!

Basking Shark Feeding

Unlike other species of sharks which are very agile and imposing hunters, the basking shark is among the few sharks that feed by filtration.It is a selective collector mainly of zooplankton, moving with its mouth open and closing it every 30 or 60 seconds, then the gill rakers filter the water that passes through the large gills, retaining the food.

It has a great filtration capacity, in fact it manages to filter about 6,000 liters of water per hour. Its food has been identified as having high concentrations of copepods, but it also consumes small fish.

Reproduction of the basking shark

Both males and females have multiple partners. This species moves towards the coast between May and July for breeding purposes and it is believed that there is a process of courtship, in which the females jump out of the water to indicate their disposition.

After internal fertilization, the female produces a large number of very small eggs, the embryos are first nourished by extensions of the uterus, called tr phonemes, then, as they begin to grow, they are fed by the yolk of the egg itself.The little sharks hatch inside the mother's body and continue feeding by consuming the unfertilized eggs.

Gestation is estimated to be very long, around 36 months. When the young are born, they are about 2 meters long, and about 4 young are born. These, from their birth, move away from the mother. The life expectancy of this shark in the wild has been estimated at around 32 years.

Conservation of the basking shark

The basking shark is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as an endangered species. Although there are currently no recorded catches, for a long time this happened unchecked, with fishermen catching them with harpoons and nets to market their large fins.

Despite the ban in many countries on hunting this shark, accidental catches and collisions with boats due to its surface habits continue to affect this animal.

Among the conservation measures, the mandatory release of accidentally captured live individuals has been introduced in various regions. On the other hand, the species is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Appendices I and II of the Convention on Migratory Species. (CMS), which establish important aspects of international trade in biodiversity.

Basking Shark Pictures

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