Basking shark on the brink of extinction, what are the most serious threats


Basking shark on the brink of extinction, what are the most serious threats

Basking shark, with an average length of 10 meters and a maximum length that can reach 12, this shark is considered the second largest fish currently living on Earth after the whale shark Like many sharks, it is also a threatened species and its genetic diversity does not appear to be very high.

Although there is no precise data on its total population, the species is considered endangered. Despite its enormous size, the basking shark is a completely harmless creature, moving slowly at a speed of 3-4 knots. Despite its apparent carelessness, some scientists from the English University of Plymouth have demonstrated, thanks to geolocation tags, that this shark does not move randomly when it feeds, but that it would identify areas rich in zooplankton, select the preferred species and memorize the migrations of plankton during the seasons, so that it can be located at any time of the year.

Basking shark on the brink of extinction, what are the most serious threats

Today, the biggest threat to this shark is overfishing by Asian countries. However, outside of Asia, bycatch and collisions with vessels are the major factors threatening elephant shark populations.

Due to its slow growth, long gestation period, and late se*ual maturity, the basking shark is unable to recover from the losses it suffered during the 20th century and has low genetic diversity. It is therefore considered by scientists to be an endangered species.

For this reason, the basking shark is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and appears in CITES Appendix II and in several international conventions such as the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic or the Convention of Bonn on the conservation of species.

In France, the species is not protected: it is only forbidden to fish it and approach it. In the North Atlantic, they are observed from southeast to southwest, passing through the north, from Senegal and various countries of Europe, passing through Norway, Sweden and Russia, up to Iceland, Canada, to the east coast of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico.

In the northern Pacific, they are present, always from south-west to south-east passing through the north, from Japan, China and the Aleutian Islands, up to Alaska, British Columbia and the western coast of the United States and Mexico, Baja California and northern part of the Gulf of California. The basking shark has never been observed in equatorial waters.