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Basking shark

Scientific Name - Cetorhinus maximus

The Basking Shark is a gigantic shark, growing up to 33ft - it is second only to the Whale Shark. The Basking Shark has an enormous mouth and is a lazy swimmer. Huge gills and a short conical snout make the Basking Shark unmistakable.

Scientific Classification

  • Order: Lamniformes
  • Family: Cetorhinidae
  • Genus: Cetorhinus
  • Species: C. maximus
  • Scientific Name: Cetorhinus maximus

Life Expectancy

73 years

Dangerous to Man?

No - Basking sharks are not considered dangerous to the passive observer and are generally tolerant of divers and boats. Despite this, its sheer size and power must be respected and in addition, contact with its skin should be avoided, as its large dermal denticles have been known to inflict damage on divers and scientists.

Conservation Status

The basking shark is also currently categorized as "Vulnerable" throughout its range and "Endangered" in the northeast Atlantic Ocean and north Pacific Ocean regions by the World Conservation Union (IUCN).


Typical maximum size of 6-8 metres.


The female gives birth to a litter of around six pups.


A passive filter feeder, the Basking Shark eaths small fish, invertebrates and zoo plankton. The Basking Shark can filter around 1800 tons of water per hour.

Other Names

sunfish, bone shark, elephant shark,sailfish shark, big mouth shark


Top speed of 4mph


Up to 16 tons