To see photographs of the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)
Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)
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Taxonomic name: Cetorhinus maximus
The world's second largest fish is the Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus) growing to 10 metres. This harmless giant
is greyish brown in colour with a long snout, tiny eyes and gill slits
that almost surround the head. The tail has a large upper lobe which,
along with the dorsal fin, is often seen protruding above the surface.
Basking Sharks are seen during summer across the southern coast of Australia
but sightings are rare, being more common in the Northern Hemisphere.
A huge oily liver about 25 per cent of their body weight
helps them to maintain neutral buoyancy. Their most notable feature is
an enormous mouth which is opened to allow plankton to be strained out
through their huge arched gill slits. It is assumed that the gill rakers,
frilled filters attached to the gill arches, are lost during the winter
when they apparently hibernate in deep water. Despite being an important
commercial species, we know virtually nothing about its life or breeding
habits and this shark has been hunted close to extinction.