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Giant Basking Shark Caught in Australia; First One Since 1930s

By    |   Tuesday, 23 Jun 2015 03:32 PM

A giant basking shark accidentally turned up in a trawler near Portland in southwestern Australia over the weekend, marking the first time the rare species has been caught in Australia since the 1930s.

The nearly 21-foot-long giant weighed in around 3 tons, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Before this most recent incident, only two other basking sharks were ever captured in Australia’s history. The first one, which was caught in 1883 in Portland, provided skin and teeth samples for the Museum Victoria in Melbourne. The other, in the 1930s, is attributed to a skipper at Lakes Entrance in Victoria who also provided the museum with gill arches.

Researchers are thrilled with the latest basking shark appearance and are excited to learn new insights from its skin and bone samples, according to CNN.



“These rare encounters can provide many of the missing pieces of knowledge that help broader conservation and biological research," Martin Gomon, Museum Victoria's senior curator of ichthyology, told CNN.

“One shark's probably not going to tell us everything about what's going on down there, but the more information we have from specimens, the bigger picture we can build up about their life history and what they're doing,” Dianne Bray, Museum Victoria's senior collections manager, said, according to the ABC.

The basking shark, which is the second-largest living fish after the whale shark, can grow up to 40 feet long. It received its name from the method in which it consumes its food. As one of three plankton-eating shark varieties, the shark slowly feeds with its disproportionately large mouth agape as it filters its incoming food through gill rakes while it basks near the surface. Although the sharks may appear frightening and threatening due to their massive size, they are placid in temperament and do not attack humans, according to Sharkfacts.

These sharks have long been prey to the illegal multi-million dollar shark fin trade, according to CNN, although they are currently protected in many territorial waters under international laws.

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A giant basking shark accidentally turned up in a trawler near Portland in southwestern Australia over the weekend, marking the first time the rare species has been caught in Australia since the 1930s.
giant, basking, shark, caught, australia
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2015-32-23
Tuesday, 23 Jun 2015 03:32 PM
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