A 20-foot-long, 5,000 pound basking shark washed up on a Long Island beach yesterday, reports CNN.
The shark died shortly after authorities arrived on the scene. The cause of death is unknown, although the possibility of a boat strike has been ruled out.
Basking sharks can reach a length of 35 feet and weigh up to 7 tons, making them the second-largest fish after the whale shark. In summer and autumn months the species is commonly sighted in surface waters off the eastern seaboard of the United States. Basking sharks migrate south for the winter, feeding on plankton and small fish off the coast of South America. The species poses no threat to humans.
A 20-foot-long basking shark washed ashore on a Long Island beach on July 14, 2009. Photo courtesy of CBS.
Basking sharks are currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List due to overfishing for its fins used in shark fin soup.
Secret movements of the basking shark uncovered May 07, 2009
Researchers with the Massachusetts Mariner Fisheries have uncovered the secret life of the world’s second largest fish, known for its cavernous mouth. The basking shark, which measures over 10 meters and weighs as much as seven tons, has long baffled scientists by disappearing from view half of every year. A new study from Current Biology found that the basking shark spends this time deep in the Atlantic’s tropical waters.