The basking shark is the second-largest shark in the world, with the first being the whale shark. It also belongs to the group of just three members of shark that are known to be planktivorous sharks. Despite its size and impressively big mouth, the basking shark is harmless to us humans, but unfortunately, some of us aren’t so harmless towards them.
Although the basking shark is one of the largest in our world’s oceans, they are still facing threats of endangerment on the IUCN red list. Unfortunately, the cause for their decrease in population comes down to us humans considerably.
Basking sharks are now a vulnerable population due to many years of them being hunted for their fins, meat, and oil. With your help, adopting a basking shark today will help contribute to the protection of this species and ensure that basking sharks get back to a healthy population.
This is something very important to us here at Ocean scuba dive and also one of the reasons we have put together Project Ocean. Below we have put together five reasons why you should adopt a basking shark today and also some interesting facts about this beloved shark.
Five Reasons why you should Adopt a Basking Shark
1. Help Ensure there is Sustainable use of our Oceans
One of the main reasons behind the decline in our basking shark numbers is the irresponsible use of our natural resources. Due to human beings overfishing, many basking sharks find themselves caught in the fishing nets and often drown in the process.
This is called bycatch, and it is very important that we do something about it. Regulation of our ocean for such events is required, and this can be supported by adopting a basking shark.
2. Help Fight Ocean Pollution
Human pollution of our ocean is another major threat. Not only do basking sharks become very sick as a result of the pollution made by humans dumping into our oceans, but also the ecosystem that supports them is damaged in the process as well.
People are often blinded by the things they cannot see, ocean pollution is one of those things. What is ocean pollution? You are able to help the basking shark population by adopting one today and using that money to help go towards lobby governments to regulate change.
3. Help Fight Against Climate Change
As many of us know, climate change is not only a threat to basking sharks. It’s much bigger than that, and also a threat to us human beings. Although we all know about the different effects of global warming on mankind, a lot less is known about the impact it has on our ocean life.
Climate change is already making a huge impact on underwater food chains, which is most certainly going to cause lasting damage to all different kinds of species, including basking sharks. This is a global emergency and we must act and do something about it now before it is too late. By adopting a basking shark you will play a part of the solution to help us make a difference.
4. Help Protect Basking Sharks
Although basking sharks are protected in some countries, they continue to be hunted in countries like China and Japan for their fins. Shark finning is an act where the fins of a shark are removed and the rest of the shark is wasted. Shark fins are used in an Asian delicacy known as shark fin soup. Basking shark fins are amongst the most valuable in the shark fin soup trade. In some cases, during the shark finning process, the sharks are caught and then thrown back into the ocean to drown without their fins.
One of the best ways to protect basking sharks and other marine species is to help establish marine habitats that are then protected from human activities. It’s these habitats that provide sanctuary and enable the basking shark numbers to recover. It is not easy trying to convince governments to prevent people from making a living but that is exactly what has to happen if we are to ensure that great white shark populations stay and maintain health.
Each donation will help to reduce the threats to these intelligent and beloved creatures and also help create a better environment for them all to live in.
5. Adopting a Basking Shark makes a Great Gift Idea
Basking sharks may be very big, but they are harmless to us humans. Apart from killer whales, the only other risk the basking shark has is human interaction. And is it us humans that have put their population into a vulnerable state.
By making a choice to adopt an animal today, you are not only helping that species, but you are also supporting the world’s oceans. Can you think of a more thoughtful gift for an ocean lover? I know I can’t.
Give the gift of giving back with this great scuba diving gift or for anyone who loves basking sharks. Help us help the basking shark population today by adopting one for someone who loves them. The give of giving is truly one of the best.
Adopt a basking shark today and I can assure you, they will thank you for it!
5 Facts about Basking Sharks
Basking sharks can grow to be up to 36 feet long! Within the world of fish, the basking shark is only exceeded by the whale shark in its impressive size. The basking shark can weigh up to four tons or more.
Basking sharks have an impressively largemouth. One of the most impressive features of the basking shark species has got to be its mouth, which can measure well over 1 meter (3 feet) in width!
The basking shark is a plankton-eating shark. Even though the basking shark has hundreds of small teeth, it doesn’t actually use them to feed. Instead, this shark often swims with its mouth wide open and catches plankton which filters through. The basking shark is one out of the three plankton-eating sharks, along with the megamouth shark and the whale shark.
Basking sharks are not aggressive and are harmless to divers. Great news for us! Just like the whale shark, basking sharks present no threat to us humans. Although they are very large and very slow, these sharks are actually still able to breach out of the water.
Basking sharks are considered to be relatively social! They usually form large schools, generally divided by sex. They have been seen in schools as large as up to 100 individuals.
Did You Know?
The basking shark actually sheds and then regrows its gill rakers during the winter months. This is the only known example of an annual moult in fish.
Frequently Asked Questions about Basking Sharks
Are Basking Sharks Endangered?
Basking sharks do not have many natural predators within the ocean, other than killer whales. Sadly, however, they are in fact under serious threat by human activity. Illegal hunting of these beautiful creatures and overfishing are just a couple of threats to mention.
Apart from direct catches of the basking shark, bycatch in trawl nets have been one of the most severe threats to the population of this shark. Basking Sharks are tolerant of both boats and divers approaching them, making them an important attraction for dive tourism in the areas where they are most commonly seen.
Historically, this type of shark has been a staple of fisheries because of its abundant numbers, very slow swimming speed, and also its placid nature. Basking sharks were hunted commercially and put to many uses, these included flesh for food, fishmeal, hide for leather, and also its large liver for oil.
Although basking sharks are now protected in many countries, in places such as China and Japan they are still being hunted for their fins. Basking shark fins are amongst the most valuable in the shark fin soup trade.
According to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), the basking shark population is classified as vulnerable. Help support them by adopting one today.
Where do Basking Sharks Live?
Basking sharks can be found throughout the world’s oceans. They mostly prefer to live in sub-polar seas and in general, tend to stay in the cold and temperate waters of the continental shelves. Although recent studies show that they do also migrate to warmer waters.
The basking shark’s habitat tends to change in accordance to the food availability. During the summertime, basking sharks will move towards the coastal areas to feed on things like copepods, which are some of the ocean’s smallest animals, and as the winter begins the sharks migrate to the colder water areas.
What do Basking Sharks Eat?
When people think of sharks, many people will automatically assume that they all eat meat. Well, they would be mistaken. The basking shark is one of the three sharks that feed using a filtration system to capture their food, plankton.
Just like whale sharks, basking sharks gills are lined with bristle-like structures called gill rakers. In order to feed, the hungry basking shark opens its mouth and swims around slowly. Simple as that. Any prey in its path which may be floating is corralled into its mouth ensnared by the gill rakers. Then swallowed down the shark’s narrow throat. In just an hour, a basking shark can strain at least 1,800 tons of water through its gills.
How old can Basking Sharks get?
According to studies, this species of shark is thought to reach maturity between the ages of 6 and 13, when their average size is around 4.6 – 6 meters (15 – 20 feet) in length. Although the life expectancy of the basking shark is still unknown, scientists believe it to be around 50 years.
But How Old is the Basking Shark Species?
Are you ready for this? Sharks have been around swimming in our oceans for almost 450 million years. That’s right, 450 million years. Many of us think it was the dinosaurs that dominated the prehistoric world, but the matter of the fact is that the dinosaurs didn’t actually appear until about 230 million years ago.
This means that sharks have existed 3 times longer than the dinosaurs. Check out our facts about sharks post for more information about sharks.