This family consists of one species, the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus, of unmistakable appearance. This huge shark grows to 10m and has enormous gill slits that nearly encircle their huge mouth and head. Basking sharks have a small and very pointed snout. The first dorsal fin is large, high and erect. The caudal fin is lunate shaped. Basking sharks belong to the very few plankton feeders of sharks. They swim with an open mouth through the water but do not suck the water in, as it is typical for the whale sharks. Basking sharks shed their gill rakers once a year and move then to deeper waters, seemingly synchronised with the plankton densities in temperate waters. Many questions remain in regards to their behavioural biology. Basking sharks are normally found below the surface and can move in aggregations. Such a scenario might have led to many of the 'sea serpent' stories. Basking sharks show a very wide distribution in temperate waters over continental shelves of both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Typical species of the family of "Basking sharks":
© Jeremy Stafford Deitsch