Friday Deep-sea Picture: Basking Shark


Photo by Chris Gotschalk, from Wikimedia Commons.

Basking sharks can measure 35 feet or longer, are known to live in temperate waters around the world, but their wintering grounds were unknown until very recently. Discovery News reports that satellite tags placed by Greg Skomal of Massachusetts Marine Fisheries are bringing new revelations about these mysterious animals. Five basking sharks swam more than 1500 miles to forage in tropical waters across the Atlantic.

“…the animals traveled at depths of between 200 meters (650 feet) and 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). Some stayed at those levels for up to five months. The animals appeared to seek out water in an ideal temperature range.”

The new research is published in this month’s issue of Current Biology.

Gregory B. Skomal, Stephen I. Zeeman, John H. Chisholm, Erin L. Summers, Harvey J. Walsh, Kelton W. McMahon, & Simon R. Thorrold (2009). Transequatorial Migrations by Basking Sharks in the Western Atlantic Ocean Current Biology (07 May) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.04.019

Peter Etnoyer (397 Posts)

PhD candidate at Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi and doctoral fellow Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

7 Replies to “Friday Deep-sea Picture: Basking Shark”

  1. Hi there! It’s David, your friendly neighborhood shark nerd.

    That is an interesting question, Tiger.

    They can close their mouths, but they rarely do.

    They really wouldn’t want to.

    When you’re that big and you eat plankton, you want to get all the nutrition that you can. Since they are constantly swimming, if their mouth is always open, they can always be eating.

    It takes a LOT of plankton to fill up the stomach of a 30 foot long shark, so they keep their mouths open almost constantly so that they get enough food.

  2. WhySharksMatter, thanks for the reply. Thought I did not ask that question that reply really helped! Like what Tiger said, I myself have never seen a shark with its mouth closed. Not even in Finding Nemo movie Lol Well I always thought they just picturize it like that to make it even scarier.

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