Animal Species:Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765)

The Basking Shark is found worldwide in temperate and cool oceanic waters. They swim with their huge mouths open, straining and feeding almost entirely on zooplankton.

Standard Common Name

Basking Shark

Identification

The Basking Shark is recognised by its large size, five long gill slits, two dissimilar sized dorsal fins, its lunate caudal fin and the single keel on each side of the caudal peduncle.

Size range

The species grows to at least 10 m in length.

Distribution

The species is found worldwide in temperate and cool oceanic waters. In Australia it is most common off the southern coastline but is recorded from Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia, around the temperate south and north to Port Stephens, New South Wales.

The map below shows the Australian distribution of the species based on public sightings and specimens in Australian Museums.  Source: Atlas of Living Australia.

Cetorhinus maximus

Distribution by collection data

Ozcam map of Basking Shark specimens in the Australian Museums.

What does this mean?

Feeding and Diet

The Basking Shark feeds almost entirely on zooplankton. Basking Sharks swim with their huge mouths open and use the brush-like gill rakers to strain food from the water. The teeth are very small varying from triangular at the centre of the jaw to conical laterally.

Classification

Species:
maximus
Genus:
Cetorhinus
Family:
Cetorhinidae
Order:
Lamniformes
Class:
Chondrichthyes
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  1. Glover, C.J.M.in Gomon, M.F, Glover, C.J.M. & R.H. Kuiter (Eds). 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast. State Print, Adelaide. Pp. 992.
  2. Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 1994 Sharks and Rays of Australia. CSIRO. Pp. 513.


Mark McGrouther , Collection Manager, Ichthyology
Last Updated:

Tags fishes, ichthyology, Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, Cetorhinidae, temperate, cool water, huge mouth, large size, five long gill slits, lunate caudal fin, > 5m, grey, marine, adult,