Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)


We are seeing more of these over the last couple of years as the water temperatures rise. They get their name by the way they are moving very close to the water surface (basking in the sun) however they are a plankton feeder and this is where the food is. They have been hunted for years for the liver oil, fins, skin and flesh for food and fishmeal and populations are decreasing so conservation measures have been put in place in certain parts of the world to protect them. In the winter they migrate to deeper water and thought to feed closer to the seabed rather than sea surface.

Length: 6-8 meters (some have been found larger but because of large scale fishing, larger sharks have become rare)
Weight: ~ 5 tons
Life expectancy: Thought to be ~50 years but still relatively unknown
Est. population around Iceland: Not known
Social behaviour: Mainly solitary but come together in feeding and mating grounds
Diet: Zooplankton (crustaceans, larvae, fish eggs)
IUCN Listing: Vulnerable
Major threats: Fished for oil, fins, meat and skin, climate change, bycatch, entanglement, chemical, predated on by orca in some parts of the world.
Other Names: Beinhákarl, Brugde, Riesenhai, Pelerine, Brugda, Peregrine, Gigntskajaakla