IUCN Species of the Day: Basking Shark


The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(tm)

Photo credit: C. Hood


The Basking Shark, Cetorhinus maximus, is listed as ‘VULNERABLE’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. It gets its name from its habit of ‘basking’ while surface foraging to filter out its planktonic prey. The Basking Shark is the second largest fish in the world, and is widely distributed in cool temperate waters throughout the world’s coastal seas and oceans.

This species was hunted for centuries to supply liver oil for street lighting and industrial use, skin for leather, and flesh for food or fishmeal. Due to its slow reproductive rate, this species is particularly vulnerable to overfishing, and targeted populations are quickly destroyed and are very slow to recover. Today, the biggest threat comes from the demand for fins in the Far East and from accidental by-catch in the fishing industry.

The Basking Shark is now protected in the territorial waters of several countries, and in 2002 it was accepted onto Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which requires that international trade is monitored.


Geographic Range of the Basking SharkCredit: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™


To learn more about the Basking Shark, click here.  Or visit the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ by clicking their logo below.


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To learn more about the Bush Warriors “Species of the Day” feature, please click here and read up on our initiative to raise awareness about the loss of earth’s biodiversity.