Has a whale shark ever swallowed a person?

The basking shark gets its relaxed reputation from the way it seems to “bask” in warm surface waters, in almost every ocean around the world. Studies have shown that they follow swarms of zooplankton that pop up along continental shelf “fronts” during phytoplankton blooms. The basking shark’s filter-feeding style is similar to that of the whale shark and megamouth shark, but these guys don’t bother pumping water into their mouths like their fellow planktivores. Their approach is called “ram feeding” but in reality it’s pretty passive: a basking shark will swim slowly through dense patches of zooplankton, filtering out the water through gill rakers encircling its head.

When was the basking shark first discovered?

Basking sharks are highly migratory. Off the Atlantic coast of North America it appears in the southern part of its range in the spring (North Carolina to New York), shifts northward in the summer (New England and Canada), and disappears in autumn and winter. Off the southwest coast of the United Kingdom in the northeast Atlantic, the basking shark feeds at the surface of coastal waters during the summer. These sharks are absent from November to March, suggesting a migration beyond the continental shelf during the winter months. This is explained by the high zooplankton density (the primary food of the basking shark) that exists in these waters during late spring and early summer. Sightings of groups of individuals of the same size and sex suggest that there is pronounced sexual and population segregation in migrating basking sharks.

Do basking sharks close their mouth?

Basking sharks have an unusual classification and are part of the order Lamniformes. This order is more commonly known as the mackerel sharks and ranges from great whites to makos, porbeagles and the megamouth. It seems strange to think that the famous seal hunting great white is related to the plankton eating basking shark, however they share a similar fin and body type. When swimming with basking sharks, you can sometimes observe them either swimming with their mouth closed or closing their mouth to swallow food. At this time, with the mouth closed, their outline looks very similar to large predatory sharks and can be quite an exhilarating experience.

Do basking sharks lay eggs?

Sharks practice internal fertilization. The posterior part of a male shark’s pelvic fins are modified into a pair of intromittent organs called claspers, analogous to a mammalian penis, of which one is used to deliver sperm into the female.

Is basking shark harmless?

Unlike whale sharks, however, basking sharks are ‘obligate ram feeders’, meaning that the shark must swim constantly in order to bring food into its mouth. Whale sharks are capable of ‘buccal pumping’, which means they can pump water across their gill-rakers even if they were to stop swimming.

Is basking shark a whale?

The basking shark is the second largest fish in the world, and like the largest fish (the whale shark) and the largest animal (the great whales), basking sharks are filter feeders that eat tiny, planktonic prey.

Is basking shark a mammal?

Shark reproduction happens through internal fertilization in all species of sharks. This is different from most fish, who will send their eggs and sperm into the blue void and pray for the best. Sharks are a K-selected reproducer and produce small numbers of well-developed baby sharks.

Is basking shark edible?

Did you know? The basking shark may be huge but we still know very little about this elusive giant. Satellite tracking has shown that they can migrate long distances in the winter, with some showing up off the Azores and even Newfoundland. However, some fishermen have reported seeing them in midwinter in the UK and they sometimes wash up dead in the winter after storms.