20-foot Basking Shark Caught in Australia
It takes many years to grow this big.
A 20-foot long shark. That's two times higher than a basketball rim. I'm six-feet tall, but I can't dunk a ball. Gives you a good idea about how big a 20-foot shark actually is.
Fishermen in Australia accidentally caught one a couple of days ago, and sadly, it was dead before they could get it on board, according to news reports. The shark was picked up by a fishing trawler in the Bass Strait off the Australian mainland's most southeastern point.
The only known shark that is bigger than a Basking shark is the titanic-sized Whale shark. Basking sharks are slow-moving plankton feeders which can grow up to a whopping 40 feet long. Unlike most sharks, their teeth are small. They feed mostly on plankton and jellyfish.
The specimen has been donated to Museum Victoria, in the southern city of Melbourne, whose scientists will use its tissue samples, stomach contents and vertebrae to research its genetics, diet and life history. The head and fins will also be used to build a full-scale exhibition model of the animal, which is rated vulnerable to overfishing, the museum said in a statement.
"These rare encounters can provide many of the missing pieces of knowledge that help broader conservation and biological research," said the museum's senior curator of ichthyology, Martin Gomon.
Museum Victoria said the species was better understood in the northern hemisphere, with little known about the southern population. The museum has only ever dealt with three of the animals over the past 160 years.
Combined news reports.