Rare Basking Shark Caught by Fishermen to be Used for Scientific Research

posted: 06/24/15
by: Danny Clemens
Basking shark
Rebecca Belleni/thinkstock

For only the third time in two centuries, a basking shark has been identified in southwestern Australia.

The bad news: the endangered 20-foot shark was killed when it was inadvertently caught by a trawler in Australia's Bass Strait.

The not-so-bad news: the fishermen responsible for the shark's death have donated the animal's carcass to Melbourne, Australia's Museum Victoria, where it will give researchers a valuable opportunity to study an extremely rare animal.

"The museum is very grateful that the skipper and crew contacted us after this occurred as it provides a rare opportunity to conduct scientific research into this species. This will help Museum Victoria with conservation efforts and biological research into this species," the museum staid in a statement posted to its Facebook page.

Information gathered from the specimen will be used to construct a full-scale basking shark exhibition.

The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish, behind the whale shark; it can grow to a length of 40 feet. The slow-moving filter feeder is is extremely vulnerable to overfishing, as it is valued for its fins and liver oil. Between 1945 and 1970, the Canadian government launched a program to eradicate the species from the country's Pacific coast, erroneously believing that the species posed a threat. Now, the species is fully protected in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and parts of the United States.

Learn more about the basking shark:

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