Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans

Basking shark


Basking shark feeding


The basking shark is a member of the family of the basking sharks  (Cetorhinidae), and the order of the  Lamniformes (mackerel sharks) .

The basking shark can be found globally in cooler and temperate waters. This shark migrates and can be found in the upper layers of the ocean until a depth of approximately 200 meters. The basking sharks is most frequently observed when the water has a temperature between 8 and 16 degrees, sometimes until 24 degrees Celsius, often close to the shore.  The basking shark is a filter feeder: when swimming it keeps its mouth open, the water flows through its mouth to the gill rakers that filter out plankton, small fish and fish eggs. It can filter upto 3000 liters per hour.

This shark is called ‘basking shark‘ because it seems to bask in the sun when swimming just under the water surface.

The basking shark is oviviparous. After the yolk sac is absorbed, the embryos feed on the other eggs produced by the mother. Gestation period is estimate to last between 12 to 36 months before the four to sixpups are born that are 150 cm long. Basking sharks probably mate at the end of spring/early summer in deeper waters. They probably reproduce only every two to four years. The number of pups per litter is not known.


  • Maximum lenght: 1200 cm
  • Maximum weight: 4000 kg
  • Lifespan: maximum 50 years
  • Habitat: 0 to 350 meter depth
  • Catches: in the past, the basking shark was caught for its liver oil, the flesh was used fresh, frozen and dried or salted. Fins are used for soup, the skin for leather. The numbers of caught basking sharks are decreasing continuously. This shark has a very slow reproduction rate, populations cannot recover. The valuable fins are often put on display in shop windows and restaurants.
  • Status: classified as  ‘Vulnerable’, for the northeastern Atlantic as ‘Endangered’ on the  IUCN Red List ( As the basking sharks migrates over great distances, the CMS (Convention of Migratory Species) included it in Appendix I and II. ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) advised a TAC (total allowable catch) of 0 in 2006.





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