Over the next couple of months, I’ll be posting information about the different shark species you can find in the Bay of Fundy. First up: basking sharks
- Basking sharks are the second largest shark (whale sharks are larger) reaching lengths of 12.2 m but the average size is 6 to 8 m. See how a basking shark measures up to other marine animals (and vehicles), below.
- Their scientific name, Cetorhinus maximus, means monstrous (ceto) nose (rhinus) greatest (maximus)
- They feed on zooplankton, but since they can’t pump water through their gills, they feed passively by swimming with their mouths open. Their long gill slits almost encircle their head and they can filter up to 2000 tons of water/hour! Modified gill rakers form a “comb” that catch the zooplankton.
- Females reach maturity at 16-20 years of age and may live over 50 years.
- In the Bay of Fundy, basking sharks begin showing up in July and leave in October/November.
- Basking sharks spend quite a bit of time at the surface, so they are frequently sighted. But this behaviour also makes them vulnerable to ship strikes.
- The Atlantic population of basking sharks are listed as “Special Concern” under COSEWIC.