Basking Sharks Essay Research Paper Basking shark

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Basking Sharks Essay, Research Paper Basking shark Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus) 1765 Bone Shark Bigelow and Schroeder, 1948, p. 147. In light of recent reports of basking sharks along the New England Coast we have assembled this page to provide information concerning this second largest of all sharks. This species is not known to be aggressive or dangerous but like any large animal should be treated with respect. The information below is taken from Bigelow and Schroeder, Fishes of the Gulf of Maine. The basking shark resembles the mackerel sharks in the lunate shape of its caudal fin, with lower lobe nearly as long as upper; also in the presence of a noticeable lunate furrow above and one below on the root of the tail, and in the wide lateral expansion of the latter, forming

a pronounced “fore and aft” keel on either side; also in the facts that the second dorsal fin and the anal fin are much smaller than the first dorsal, that its fifth gill opening is situated in front of the origin of the pectoral fin; in the position of the mouth on the under side of the head; and in the wide separation of the nostrils from the mouth. But the teeth of the basking shark are minute and very numerous (large and few in number in the mackerel sharks); its gill openings are so large that they extend right around the neck, with those of the first pair almost meeting below on the throat; and the inner margin of each gill arch bears a great number of horny, bristle-like rakers, directed inward-forward, that correspond to the rakers of various bony fishes in their

position and in their function (see p. 30). It was the fancied resemblance of these rakers to the whalebone of the whalebone whales that suggested the vernacular name “bone shark” to the whalemen of olden times. Corresponding to its feeding habits, the mouth of the basking shark is very large and widely distensible at the corners. The snout is short, conical, with rounded tip on large specimens. But it is much longer, relatively, on small ones, projecting far beyond the mouth, obliquely truncate in front, terminating above in a sharp point, and with the head strongly compressed sideways abreast of the front of the mouth. This results in so bizarre an appearance that the young basking shark was thought at first to represent a separate species. A gradual transition takes place

from the juvenile shape of head to the adult shape when a length of 12 to 16 feet has been reached. We need only note further that the triangular first dorsal fin stands midway between pectorals and pelvics; though not so high in proportion as that of the mackerel-shark tribe, it rises high in the air when a large basking shark lies awash on the surface, as is their habit, a convenient field mark (see figure). Figure 8 – Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), 26 -1/2 foot female, Marthas Vineyard. . From Bigelow and Schroeder. Drawinge by E. N. Fischer. Color. Upper surface grayish brown, slaty gray, or even almost black. The lower surface has been described repeatedly as white. But the Menemsha specimen described by Allen 57 was of a somewhat lighter shade below than above,

without white markings, as was a Massachusetts Bay specimen recently examined by us; while one 14 feet long captured at West Hampton, L. I., on June 29, 1915 58 had the belly as dark as the back, with a white patch underneath the snout in front of the mouth. Size: The basking shark rivals, though it does not equal, the whale shark of tropical seas in size. Reports that an occasional basking shark may reach a length of 50 feet probably are not an exaggeration, for the catch on the coast of Norway, for the period 1884 to 1905, included one of about 45 feet and three of about 40 feet, with the six next longest ranging between 36 feet and 30 feet 3 inches. The three longest for which we find definite measurements for the western Atlantic were of 32 feet 2 inches, 32 feet, and 30 feet