Basking Shark: Cetorhinus Maximus, Known As The Elephant Shark

The Basking Shark is the second largest fish ever seen, second only to the whale shark.

Thus, the species was described in 1765 and can go by the common names peregrine shark or basking shark.

basking shark

Thus, the last common name comes from the bulge on the animal’s snout.

This would also be the “sea monster”, due to its body characteristics that we will understand next:


  • Scientific name – Cetorhinus maximus;
  • Family – Cetorhinidae.

Basking Shark Characteristics

The Basking Shark has an elongated body and its extremities are narrow.

And among the characteristics that differentiate the fish, understand the following:

This species has highly developed anatomical adaptations and gill filters, as well as a wide mouth.

The gill slits extend around the lower and lateral region of the head.

As a result, individuals have the ability to filter up to 1800 tons of water per hour, something that is possible because the intake is of the passive type and they swim with their mouths open.

In this way, filtration occurs after water flows through the mouth to the gills.

It is also important to talk about the teeth, which despite being small, are numerous.

It is possible that the animal has more than a hundred teeth per row, that it has a backward curvature, as well as the size of the lower and upper jaws.

Regarding the color, understand that the shark is gray with some shades of brown, something that reminds us of a mottled skin appearance.

As for size and weight, know that individuals from 6 to 8 m and weighing 5.2 tons are common.

But, it is possible to see larger specimens such as a shark captured in 1851 in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. The animal was 12.3 m long and weighed 19 tons.

Finally, it is interesting that you know a characteristic of the behavior of this species:

Many researchers believe that fish follow visual stimuli.

That is, they observe or even follow the vessels imagining that it would be another member of the species.

In this sense, despite having small eyes, they are functional and developed.

Confusion with the white sharks

Before mentioning how the reproduction of this species works, we must mention that it can be confused with the white shark because of its body shape.

However, we will mention some points that differentiate the species:

Firstly, the Basking Shark’s jaw is up to 1 meter wide, which makes it cavernous.

In addition, the teeth of individuals of the species would be smaller, while the white shark’s teeth are large and have a dagger-like shape.

In fact, the Friar’s main characteristic is its ability to filter while the White would be an active and aggressive predator.

Shark Breeding

Fish of this species reach sexual maturity between 6 and 13 years of age, at which time they reach almost 5 m in total length.

Therefore, the fish breed during the summer in the coastal waters of the temperate region and the eggs hatch inside the mother’s body.

It is believed that the basking shark’s gestation lasts from 2 to 4 years and the females generate 2 young that are born with about 2 m.

However, the number of puppies and the gestation time is not yet known for sure.

Mothers prefer to inhabit shallow waters for the birth of their young.

And a very important point would be the way of feeding the embryo.

Generally speaking, when the embryo is at an early stage of development, it feeds on the contents of a well-developed yolk sac.

Then the diet is based on oophagia, in which the embryo eats the other eggs, still inside the mother’s body.

In this way, oophagia explains the teeth that are fundamental before birth, as they allow the embryo to eat the eggs.

And right after birth, fish can live to be about 50 years old.


As stated above, the species feeds by filtration and the ideal place would be the surface of the water.

In this way, the Shark Shark simply opens its mouth.

And despite having olfactory bulbs that can be used for orientation, the animal does not look for food, a characteristic that differentiates it from other species that have the same ability.

Otherwise, being a passive filter, the fish depends on the water that is forced through its gills.

This means that the individual does not have any type of mechanism that allows him to pump or suck the water.


According to studies carried out in 2003, it is known that this species does not hibernate.

That is, the Frade Shark has a migratory behavior throughout the year, in which it swims to latitudes where there are more planktons.

Adults can also migrate to deeper waters during the winter, reaching a depth of around 900 m.

According to Gregory Skomal, an expert with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, fish are believed to migrate for breeding.

Thus, according to a study carried out in 2009, carried out on 25 sharks of this species, it was possible to observe the following:

The individuals were in Massachusetts and migrated south in the winter period, inhabiting regions with depth between 200 and 1000 m.

After a few weeks, they arrived in Ecuador and Brazil, as well as breeding.

And the migration took time because the animal is a slow swimmer, moving with an average speed of 3.7 km/h.

Another curiosity that we should highlight would be that the species is harmless.

Although it is very large and has a menacing appearance, the animal is calm.

And to finish the curiosities, know that few animals are predators of Frade.

Some examples of predators are orcas or white sharks.

The difference is that the orcas devour the Friars, while the white shark only eats the remains of dead fish.

Lampreys also have the habit of grabbing the animal’s skin, but they hardly manage to pierce the thick skin of adults.

Therefore, they pose threats only to young fish.

Where to find the Frade Shark

First, the Frade Shark is common in coastal waters that are rich in plankton.

In this sense, the distribution occurs in waters of the continental shelves from boreal areas to subtropical regions of temperate waters.

The fish would prefer colder waters, with temperatures between 8 °C and 14.5 °C, but they are also capable of swimming in warm waters.

Therefore, the species is found in the seas of northern Europe during the summer and in the Atlantic waters further south during the winter.

In addition, the Frade does not move away from large vessels.

And despite being slow and large, he can jump, putting his body entirely above the water’s surface.

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