Several massive basking sharks, measuring roughly 25 feet in length, were spotted off the Massachusetts coastline over the weekend and filmed by local residents and authorities.
After one of the basking sharks was sighted off Wellfleet on Friday, it was reported to the state Department of Marine Fisheries, which contacted Massachusetts State Police, according to Cape Cod Today. The police dispatched an air wing unit, which spotted the shark roughly 200 feet from shore and filmed the giant animal.
The basking shark was not alone in coastal waters, however as a Gloucester resident was able to film a pair of the animals feeding off the shoreline using a drone. As BostInno reports, the five-minute-long clip was filmed off Bass Rocks by YouTube user Martin Del Vecchio on May 15 and depicts two of the giant basking sharks swimming just off the coastline. A lobster boat also present in the video provides an excellent size comparison for the sharks as it measures roughly 30 feet in length.
“The basking shark is the second largest fish in the sea, after the whale shark,” the description noted. “Like its larger cousin, the basking shark is a filter feeder, extracting plankton from the water as it passes through its mouth and gills. A typical adult basking shark is 20 to 25 feet long, and weighs five tons. These specimens appear to be that size.”
— Prof Brendan Godley (@BrendanGodley) May 17, 2015
Often confused for great white sharks by casual observers, basking sharks are hardly interested in the same prey, and are not considered dangerous to humans. Much like a group of right whales recently spotted near Cape Cod, basking sharks feed on zooplankton and are considered a “species of concern” among conservation groups. In Canada, the sharks are listed as an endangered species.
According to the Massachusetts state shark research program, warming water temperatures have been instrumental in spurring yearly migrations of various fish species, including several species of shark. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, several great white sharks that are tracked by non-profit group Ocearch have moved north along the East Coast on an eventual course for Cape Cod.
“In fact, Massachusetts represents the northernmost range for several species of sharks,” state researchers asserted. “Therefore, it is an important area for monitoring the health and distribution of shark populations.”
Amid a growing population of seals and white sharks that prey upon them, some Massachusetts townships have made efforts to draw a distinction between the predators and basking sharks. In 2012, the Town of Orleans released a guide identifying the key differences between great whites and basking sharks found off the Massachusetts coastline.
[Photo by Massachusetts State Police via WNCN]