Even at a massive 6.3-metres and weighing three tonnes, this basking shark, caught by a trawler near Portland, on Victoria’s south coast, is just a baby. The species is the second largest fish in the world after the whale shark and can grow up to 12 metres and weigh nearly 20 tonnes.
But to catch one in Australian waters is extremely rare – the last time one was captured was about 80 years ago – so scientists from Museum Victoria were pretty excited to get up close to one this week.
The museum posted these photos of the shark – and its teeth – on Facebook, saying it “caused a great deal of excitement”, so they sent a team down to measure and take samples from the shark “to gain rare insights into this little-known species”.
The head and fins were removed and taken back to Melbourne to to make moulds that will then be used in displays.
But before anyone freaks out, playing the Jaws music in the head fearing they’ll fall prey to this monster from the deep, relax. Like it’s larger cousin, the basking shark lives on a diet of plankton, opening their huge mouth and using the gill rakers to sieve through nearly 2000 tonnes of water an hour.
The basking shark got its name from the fact that it spends most of its time close to the surface feeding. They are listed as vulnerable.
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