|Little is known about
the biology and life history of the basking shark. Scientists
are trying to better understand their population size
and distribution, as well as determine their local and
seasonal movements and residency patterns. Although
the basking shark is not considered a threatened or
endangered species, the capture of a basking shark is
prohibited by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The basking shark (Cetorhinus
maximus) is one of the largest fish in the world,
second only in size to the whale shark, a resident of
tropical waters. Basking sharks are found in the temperate
waters of New England during the spring, summer, and
fall, including Cape Cod Bay and Massachusetts Bay.
These animals are typically 20 to 25 feet long, but
adults can reach lengths of 39 feet (12 meters) and
weigh up to 8,500 pounds (3,900 kilos). Although giants
in size, basking sharks feed on zooplankton, which are
tiny organisms that drift in the ocean.
Basking Shark in the
waters off New England
|However, the species is vulnerable
to habitat destruction, entanglements in fishing gear,
and vessel strikes. Help scientists unravel the mysteries
of this gentle giant to ensure the survival of the basking
shark in the waters of New England. |
|Become a Citizen
here to view/download our Basking Shark Identificaton sheet and the Educational Brochure 8 Mb) |
|Whether you're a fisherman,
a whale watcher, or a recreational boater, scientists
at the New England Basking Shark Project need your help. You can provide sighting
information and photographs of the basking sharks
that you observe from your vessel or from the beach.
Sighting information will help scientists better understand
when basking sharks enter and leave the waters of New
England and what areas are preferred for feeding. Photographs
will allow scientists to identify individuals to determine
their seasonal residency within an area.|
The large triangular
dorsal fin of the basking shark
|Basking Shark Alert!|
A large triangular
dorsal fin moving slowly across the water's surface
alerts boaters and beach goers to the presence
of a basking shark. The shark appears to be "basking"
at the surface, giving this species its common
name. But in reality, it is hard at work filter
feeding at the surface.
shark swims closer, you will notice that its body
coloring is grayish brown and may appear mottled.
If the shark is feeding, its huge mouth will remain
open as it filters food from the water. The inside
of the mouth is pure white, but appears somewhat
greenish seen through water. You may see other
white markings on the body, possibly caused by
a collision with a boat, skin infections, or lesions.
|Spotting Basking Sharks
Look for the large, triangular
dorsal fin. Sometimes the tip of the tail fin
and the shark's snout can also be seen. A shark's
tail moves from side to side, while a whale's
tail goes up and down.
sharks can be a cause of concern for small boats.
When startled, these sharks have been known to
thrash their tails before diving. And they can
breach or jump unpredictably and very high out
of the water.
report a beached or stranded shark: call Massachusetts
Marine Fisheries at 508-965-4394
the tip of the tail can be seen
an entangled marine animal call 1-800-900-3622.
For more information about entanglements please visit
the Center for Coastal Studies website at www.coastalstudies.org.|
England Basking Shark Project (NEBShark) is a project
with the New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance (NECWA)
that is working to better understand and conserve New
England’s unique coastal wildlife. NEBShark is
collaboration with the Capt. John Boats, Bridgewater
State University and the Massachusetts Division of Marine
Fisheries." . |
General Sighting Data Sheet|
number of people from the New England community have
recently requested the use of NECWA's general sighting
form used to record the presence of many different
types of marine animals sighted in the waters off
New England. In response to these request, NECWA has
decided to post their Coastal Waters Sighting Form
for use by any interested group, organization or individual.
Feel free to download
our Coastal Waters Sighting Form and use as
needed to assist with your efforts offshore. Researchers
and amateurs alike are invited to modify the sighting
form in any way that more closely meets the needs
of their projects or interests.
instance, people interested in recording seabirds
offshore can easily modify the form by creating species
codes and behavior codes for the most common species
of seabirds sighted in your area. Species codes are
two-letter codes created by combining the first letter
of the genus name with the first letter of the species
name. Behavior codes are created in a less formal
manner and can be any 2 letter combination as long
as that letter combination has not been used previously
for any other behavior. Providing codes for different
species and observed behaviors takes less time to
record and occupies less space on the sighting form.
Just remember to standardize your collection methods
and make sure that you do not have duplicate codes
listed on the form.
here to download form (WORD Document)
|Click here to download the "Make Your Own Plankton Sieves - A Tool For Studying Plankton" guide|
New England Basking Shark Project|
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