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 Species of the Week – Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)

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PostSubject: Species of the Week – Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus)   Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:05 pm

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The Basking Shark is the largest fish in the Northern Atlantic and, after Whale Shark, the second largest living fish in the world. They reach length of 6-8 m, but specimens over 10 meters have been recorded!

Despite their size, these sharks pose no danger to humans. They are passive filter feeders, simply swimming through the water with their mouths open and filtering water through their gills. As water passes over the gills, plankton and all kinds of small food particles are retained. With this simple feeding technique, they can filter 1,500 cubic meters of water per hour!

There is a lot of research going on in waters around Ireland, including visual tagging, satellite tagging, photo ID and DNA analysis. Interestingly, the shark's skin doesn't have to be punctured to obtain a DNA sample - scientists can just take a sample of the slime on its body! They use a pan scourer and a window cleaning pole, quickly swipe the fin from a boat and sample can go to the lab, with no harm to the shark at all!

Northeast Atlantic population is listed as Endangered by IUCN, but unfortunately, Irish law offers no protection for Basking Sharks, as no fish or marine invertebrates are protected under our Wildlife Act.

We were very lucky to see a Basking Shark on our recent trip with DolphinWatch Carrigaholt, which was an unforgettable experience. Have you ever seen a Basking Shark? Let us know!

To find out more about latest sightings and research, please visit excellent websites [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] and [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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