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Basking shark

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Basking shark
Basking Shark.jpg
Scientific Classification
Scientific Name

Cetorhinus maximus

The Basking Shark is a species of shark know by the scientific name Cetorhinus maximus. It is perhaps best known for its enormous size, being the second largest shark in existence. It can reportedly live up to 50 years and grow to lengths of 1,220 -1250 cm. [1], The basking shark is known to be a slow moving migratory shark. It can be seen swimming in the shallows with its mouth open filtering up to 2000 tons of sea water an hour. [2]

Body Design

Basking Shark shape

The Basking shark is a large and slow moving fish. They will grow to be as long as fifty feet and can with in at over 5 tons. [2]. Basking sharks are very large and hard extremely rough skin on them [2].

The basking shark has four distinct characteristics. The first one is their head is almost completely circled with large gill slits. The second thing that makes them unique is their snout (nose) is large and conical. The this thing they are remembered for is their subterminal mouth with has many small hooked teeth. The fourth and final thing that is extra unique to the basking shark is their Caudal fin lunate and the fact it only has a single keel on the caudal peduncle [2].

Life Cycle

Baby Basking Sharks

The life cycle of the Basking shark has very limited information available for their reproductive systems. [3] Only one female with an embryo has even been recorded and she was said to have given birth to five live young and one still born. They ranged in length from 1.5 thru 2 meters or 4.5-6 feet, the thought is the Basking shark is a ovoviviparous. The gestation period is thought to be three years or greater. While it has also been proposed that the Basking shark uses a method of embryonic nutrition known as oviphagy. This is when the embryo feeds on other unfertilized eggs or other embryos within the uterus[3].

The female is thought to reach sexual maturity between the ages of 12 and 16 years of age[3]. While the male has been paired intromittant organs called claspers. These are located on the inner margin of their pelvic fins [4] The gestational period is believed to be the longest in any vertebrate lasting up to 3.5 years. Basking shark babies are born at an astounding 5 feet in length. This makes them even longer than some full grown adult sharks. [4]


Basking Sharks known areas

The Basking Shark lives in the coastal to pelagic water in boreal warm-temperatures and insular shelves. These can be offshore as well as very close to land, sometimes just off the surf and even at the inlets of bays. They are known to live in deeper waters in lower latitudes with a known range of 0-1870 ft in depth. They are normally seen in surface waters, but are primarily midwater inhabitants. They will surface when the water conditions and food conditions are favorable [4].

They are seen much more often in cooler temperatures in locations such as of both coasts of North America. The summer plankton blooms are at moderate to high levels in New Zealand waters doing summer and fall. This encourages sightings near the Cook Straight and Dunedin during summer and fall. They seem to migrate to higher latitudes in the summer and autumn while seeming to disappear during winter months. They seem to fair better in water temperatures in the range of 46-54 degree F.[4]


Basking Shark is seen eating and then shows the world it is not just another slow dumb animal. It is believe the is has a couple tricks for removing skin eating parasites.


  1. Compagno, L.J.V. Sharks of the world Fishbase. Web January 4,2017 date accessed.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 C. Knickle, L. Billingsley & K. DiVittorio Cetorhinus-maximus "Florida Museum of Natural History". Web. January 16, 2017 (accessed).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Billingsley Knickle.Cetorhinus-maximus "Florida Museum". January 4, 2017. (accessed).
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Aiden, Martin Cetorhinus "Biology of the Basking Shark" Web January 17, 2017. (accessed)