Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765)

Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus References

Date/Image Description Additional Information

11 Aug 2009
Observations by Josh Plant:
On Tuesday Aug 11, 2009 ~ 6pm glassy conditions coming home from tuna fishing just off Point Pinos at 36 39’ & 122 58’ we passed a smallish basking shark probably no more than 20’. Only saw the dorsal fin to judge size but could have been bigger with less dorsal out of the water. I would say 90% certain a basking shark due to the dark brown / black rounded dorsal.
Map shows 9 Sep 2008 location (see below); location for this observation was about 10 miles different.
07 May 2009 Basking Sharks' Hiding Places Found
Emily Sohn, Discovery News
Elusive, Giant Fish | Discovery News Video May 7, 2009 -- For ages, scientists have wondered where basking sharks go in the wintertime. Now, they have an answer -- and it's full of surprises. In the western Atlantic, the world's second largest fish swims all the way from New England to the Bahamas and across the equator to South America, a new study finds. Scientists have long thought that basking sharks spent all of their time in cooler waters..
Greg Skomal and colleagues attached a new type of satellite tracking tag to 25 basking sharks off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. Once each tag was attached to a shark, it collected data on depth, temperature and light levels for a preprogrammed amount of time -- from 12 days to more than a year. When its time was up, the device popped off the animal and sent its data back to the researchers.

9 Sep 2008
Observations by Josh Plant::
Coming back from a tuna fishing trip on September 9, 2008 I saw two much larger basking sharks ( ~30’) off Point Lobos in glassy conditions. Followed them a bit and got pictures and saw the tail fin when they got spooked by the boat. See attached picture and map.
01 May 2005 Lisa Utal, Jean DeMarignac, and Bob Lea were on the NOAA ship McArthur II last week and had a really neat interaction with a basking shark on Sunday May 1 2005. The shark was approximately 5.5 m (18 feet) and was feeding at the surface. When we approached it with our monster size ship 86.6 m (284 ft), the shark turned and came directly to the bow of the ship and then cruised down the starboard side. We were just off the coast north of Santa Cruz, but south of Pescadero. Quite a treat.
Thanks to Lisa Utal.
26 Jul 2004
Basking sharks were observed outside Whaler's Cove, Point Lobos CA, USA. The attached image was taken at 9:29 AM July 29 2004. More detailed observations by Steve Ligas.
02 Sep 2002 Kelly Newton took the attached picture on Monday (02 Sep 2002) out in Monterey Bay. Along with the Basking Shark there were 4-5 Blue whales and 2 Humpback whales. From the plane (650 ft.) we could see it with its mouth open cruising through all of the krill. It was an amazing site! Enjoy! Kelly No longer most recent basking shark sighting in Monterey Bay
Abstract AES 2002.

The first results of archival tagging of a basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus, in the western North Atlantic by Greg Skomal aned Nick Caloyinais.

29 Jan 2000 Slideshow of 2.92 m TL male juvenile basking shark caught in Porto Moniz (North-West coast of Madeira), on 29 Jan 2000.
Approximately 90 kg (we didn't have a scale); gonads 0.386 kg (GSI ~ 0.43%); liver 4.570 kg (HSI ~5%)

Thanks to Charlott Stenberg. "I was there to see the goblin shark. You can see it in the background".

Movie Frame01.jpg Basking Shark Fishery in Monterey Bay
5.6 MB QuickTime 4 Web Movie (240x 180) tested on iMac DV and PC.

Same as (0.675 MB Real Player streaming movie (has pixelation but is small file).
Working on Codec for Window Media Player. In the meantime you need QuickTime 4 to play on PC (free download).
Alternatively use RealPlayer for PC. Thanks to Brennan McAdams for .rm file.
basking shark vertebra 2.jpg Basking shark vertebrae images by Richard Lord. Click on thumprint on left for "3d" view; lateral view; top or bottom view.  
  Translation by Markus Leppä of Sund, O. 1943. Et Brugdebarsel. Naturen 67: 285-286. Birth of a Basking Shark.
Six neonates(5 live, one dead; TL 1.5-2.0 m) were born north-northwest of Geitmaren by ~1525 kg female. One pup was recaptured.
I met Marcus at 1995 AES meeting in Edmonton, Canada.
Preliminary life history table. Actually, it's a two-stage matrix model using a variable stage duration following Caswell (2001), April 2004: a stage-based model is not really suitable for elassmobranchs (see Mollet and Cailliet 2003)
  Coming soon, Julie Phillips' notes taken in preparation for Phillips, J. B. 1948. Basking shark fishery revived in California. CA F&G 34:11-23.  
Tim Thomas on basking shark fishery in Monterey Bay. The $5.00 Quarterly Bulletin of the Monterey History and Art Association Vol. 53, No. 1 has lots of photos and is therefore easier to read. Complete reference is Tomas T. (2004). Dancing on the belly of the shark and other adventures on Monterey Bay. Noticias del Puerto de Monterey. Quarterly Bulletin of the Monterey History and Art Association 53, 3-25. Download PDF (4.6 MB, thanks go to Greg Cailliet).  
Whale sharks off Central California, beginning to look credible based on info by Karin Forney NMFS ("sightings off Big Sur and Santa Cruz must have occurred during flights on September 6-8, 1989") and Bill Ripley CaF&G ret. ("touched one in Santa Barbara Channel in 1942/3").
Now available: Ebert, D.A., H.F. Mollet, A. Baldridge, T. Thomas, K. Forney, and W.E. Ripley. Occurrence of the whale shark, Rhincodon typus Smith 1828, in California waters. Northwestern Naturalist, 2004, 85(1), 20-22.

Karin Forney pers. comm. to Dave Ebert; Bill Ripley pers. comm. to Tim Thomas.

Created October 2000, revised August 2009. Back to home page.
Please send comments or corrections to