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NEFSC Apex Predators Program

basking shark Basking shark

BASKING SHARK

Cetorhinus maximus

SIZE

To about 32 ft (9.8 m).

DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS

  • Head nearly encircled with enormous gill slits; bristlelike gill rakers inside gill slits
  • Color grayish-brown to slate gray above, often with lighter, irregular mottled patches; paler below
  • Snout bulbous, conical
  • Mouth large, subterminal; teeth minute and hooked
  • Caudal fin lunate with single keel on caudal peduncle

DISTRIBUTION

Newfoundland, Canada, to Florida; usually mid-Atlantic in spring; New England, Gulf of Maine, and Canada in summer.

HABITAT

Coastal and offshore; sometimes enters inshore bays.

SIMILAR SPECIES

White shark has dorsal surface that appears uniformly colored in the water, triangular teeth with serrated edges; lacks gill slits nearly encircling head.

MORE INFORMATION


Guide to Sharks, Tunas, & Billfishes of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Text descriptions taken from:
Guide to Sharks, Tunas, & Billfishes
of the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

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(File Modified Aug. 08 2017)