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Basking Shark - Cetorhinus maximus
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Basking sharks can attain lengths of up to 45 feet and are one of the largest fish in the world with only some whale sharks being larger. They have a grayish-brown to completely grey or black spindle-shaped body that can reach up to 45 feet long. Basking sharks have very long gill slits, tiny rows of teeth, and large combs of horny gill rakers that they use to filter plankton at a rate of 2,000 tons of water per hour. They often break the surface with their broad dorsal fin and have even been known to jump out of the water.

Basking Shark
(Cetorhinus maximus)

Temperate and subtropical waters throughout the world

Surface of open seas



The status of this species is representative of the populations within the waters of this Sanctuary only, not global populations.

Quick Fact
Basking sharks are the largest of the sixteen species of shark found in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. It is illegal to take basking sharks in California waters.

Learn More
- Florida Museum of Natural History
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- Australian Museum Online