Basking shark

Majestic giants of the sea, they peacefully glide through the ocean with mouths agape, filtering the waters for sustenance

Greg Skomal, NOAA Fisheries Service

Best known for its colossal size, making it the second-largest fish in the world. These gentle giants can reach lengths of up to 9 m (30 ft) or more, dwarfing most other shark species. Despite their massive size, basking sharks have relatively slender body, which allows them to move gracefully through the water. Their most recognizable feature is their enormous gaping mouth, which they use to filter feed on tiny plankton and other small organisms present in the water.

Despite their large size and rows of small, non-functional teeth, basking sharks pose no threat to humans. They are docile filter feeders, swimming slowly near the ocean’s surface with their mouths wide open, straining vast amounts of water to capture their microscopic prey. This unique feeding strategy, known as ram filtration, allows basking sharks to consume enormous quantities of plankton while expending minimal energy.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Atlantic Ocean
2018
Indian Ocean
2018
Pacific Ocean
2018
Mediterranean Sea
2018
Black Sea
2018
Albania
2018
Algeria
2018
American Samoa
2018
Angola
2018
Anguilla
2018
Antigua & Barbuda
2018
Argentina
2018
Aruba
2018
Australia
2018
Bahamas
2018
Barbados
2018
Belgium
2018
Belize
2018
Benin
2018
Bermuda
2018
Bonaire
2018
Bosnia And Herz.
2018
Brazil
2018
British Virgin Is.
2018
Cameroon
2018
Canada
2018
Cape Verde
2018
Cayman Islands
2018
Chile
2018
China
2018
Christmas Island
2018
Colombia
2018
Cook Islands
2018
Costa Rica
2018
Croatia
2018
Cuba
2018
Curaçao
2018
Cyprus
2018
Côte D’ivoire
2018
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2018
Denmark
2018
Dominica
2018
Dominican Republic
2018
Ecuador
2018
Galápagos
Egypt
2018
El Salvador
2018
Equatorial Guinea
2018
Falkland Islands
2018
Malvinas
Faroe Islands
2018
Fiji
2018
France
2018
Clipperton I.
French Guiana
2018
French Polynesia
2018
Gabon
2018
Gambia
2018
Germany
2018
Ghana
2018
Gibraltar
2018
Greece
2018
Guadeloupe
2018
Guam
2018
Guatemala
2018
Guernsey
2018
Guinea-Bissau
2018
Guinea
2018
Guyana
2018
Haiti
2018
Honduras
2018
Iceland
2018
Indonesia
2018
Ireland
2018
Isle Of Man
2018
Israel
2018
Italy
2018
Jamaica
2018
Japan
2018
Jersey
2018
Kiribati
2018
Korea
2018
Lebanon
2018
Liberia
2018
Libya
2018
Malta
2018
Marshall Islands
2018
Martinique
2018
Mauritania
2018
Mexico
2018
Micronesia
2018
Monaco
2018
Montenegro
2018
Morocco
2018
Namibia
2018
Nauru
2018
Navassa Island
2018
Netherlands
2018
New Caledonia
2018
New Zealand
2018
Nicaragua
2018
Nigeria
2018
Niue
2018
Norfolk Island
2018
Nort. Mariana Is.
2018
North Korea
2018
Norway
2018
Palau
2018
Panama
2018
Papua New Guinea
2018
Peru
2018
Philippines
2018
Pitcairn
2018
Portugal
2018
Puerto Rico
2018
Main Island
Russia
2018
Saint Helena
2018
Samoa
2018
Senegal
2018
Sierra Leone
2018
Slovenia
2018
Solomon Islands
2018
South Africa
2018
Spain
2018
Suriname
2018
Sweden
2018
Syria
2018
São Tomé & Príncipe
2018
Taiwan
2018
Tokelau
2018
Tonga
2018
Trinidad & Tobago
2018
Tunisia
2018
Turkey
2018
Turks & Caicos
2018
Tuvalu
2018
US Minor Is.
2018
United Kingdom
2018
United States
2018
Hawaiian Is.
Uruguay
2018
Vanuatu
2018
Wallis & Futuna
2018

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No