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Congregating Basking Sharks

Basking Sharks or Cetorhinus Maximus is the second largest fish after Whale Shark. Belonging to the order Laminiformes and the family of Cetorhinidae, genus Cetorhinus. They also happen to be planktivorous. The basking sharks can grow up to 33 feet in length and possess an enormous mouth. Unlike the Whale shark it does not search for food actively. It is a ‘passive feeder’, which means instead of specifically looking out for food the basking shark  swims around with its jaws open wide letting the water course through its gigantic mouth and the planktons getting trapped in the gill rakers as the water is pushed out through the five large gill slits that circles it head. The basking shark also has a unique body with a pointed snout, a crescent moon shaped tail and fins that can reach almost two meters in length and has more teeth than any other shark. However, the teeth are small in size and hook shaped.

The Basking Shark is passive an animal and known to be “kind” to divers. However, it is an enormous body has rough skin and “dermal denticles” or tooth like scales that point at all directions and if one grazes close could get a nasty cut. Usually a solitary animal at times they are found in pairs. However, recently Basking Sharks have been sighted congregating from around 30 to nearly around 1400 individuals in the water of Nova Scotia to Long Island. The reason behind this congregation is yet to be discovered and it is presumed that this could be for feeding or courtship.


By: Madhuchanda Saxena