The Basking Shark Society
The Society is a registered charity devoted to ensuring the survival of the Basking Shark. It has been established to support the ongoing scientific research of the Basking Shark Project established in the early 1980's and to operate a range of conservation and educational efforts in Britain and abroad.
We are privileged to have Olivia Newton John as our President. Through her programmes for the Animal Planet Network and Discovery Channel which have been shown worldwide Olivia has done much to promote a better understanding of creatures under threat from environmental and other pressures.
The long term aim is to develop the shop into a fully equipped Marine Centre
where we can display not only the fascinating world of the basking shark but also
that of the whales, dolphins and other exciting marine life to be found in British
- The basking shark (Cetorhinus
maximus) is the second largest fish in the sea, second only to the whale
shark (Rhincodon typus).
- It's closest relative is the
renowned great white shark.
- The Basking Shark is a harmless
and gentle creature which feeds only on plankton. It has 6 rows of teeth
on the upper jaw and 9 on the lower each approximately 5mm long.
- Basking sharks have been reported
from all the oceans of the world.
- Sharks of 12m are not uncommon
and reports of 18m specimens have been received, however basking sharks
of 4-6m are probably most common in British waters.
- The sharks, some of which may
weigh 2-3 tons, frequently make spectacular leaps clear of the water.
- Basking Sharks are ovoviparous
giving birth to live young rather than laying eggs like some other sharks.
- It is commonly reported that
a 12m specimen weighs 3 tons, It's dorsal fin approaches 2m, approximately
the same length as each of it's pectorals.
- A Basking Shark swims at 2-3
knots with its mouth (1m across) wide open filtering plankton through
gill rakers on its 5 enormous pairs of gill arches. A water volume
equivalent to a 50m swimming pool is filtered every hour.
- Basking Sharks like many other
sharks are hunted for their livers (approx. one third of their body
weight) which contain the oil squalene This was used for engine lubrication
and in the manufacture of cosmetics such as skin creams. Japan has historically
been one of the most important squalene producers. While export data
is not available for Japan after 1980 South Korea is quoted as importing
an average of 52 tonnes annually from Japan during 1987 to 1994. It
is estimated that 1 tonne of squalene would require the livers of 2500-3000
- The most recent reports suggest
that they are now killed solely for their fins which are sold to the
Far East to be used in shark fin soup.
- In several areas they have
already been hunted to extinction.
The Basking Shark Society
Isle of Man. IM4 3LN
Return to The Basking Shark
Phone: +44 (0)1624 801207 - Fax: +44 (0)1624 801046
All text and images © The Basking Shark Project