Long Island Basking Shark: Gentle Giant Pays Dying Visit

July 15th, 2009 - 6:09 pm ICT by GD  

basking sharkThe arrival of a rather unlikely guest in the form of a plus-sized basking shark, at the shores of Long Island on Tuesday, caused quite a stir at the Gilgo State Park near Babylon in Suffolk County, just a few miles east of the ever popular Jones Beach. According to conflicting reports, it is believed, that the full-grown creature was anything between 20-24 feet long, and weighed approximately a ton.

A common sight in the waters of Long Island, basking sharks, contrary to their intimidating appearance, are in fact, rather benign in their food habits, with their diet consisting predominantly of plankton, thereby not posing a threat to human life. According to marine biologists, these gentle giants are toothless, and the second largest species of sharks, after the whale shark.

They owe the epithet ‘basking’ to their peculiar tendency to feed near the surface, which when observed, appears to be, them in fact, basking in the water. They are known to feed close to the land and enter closed bay-like areas in search of richer concentrations of plankton, the same reason that they are also found to often inhabit the warmer waters around continental shelves.

However, their proximity to humans has never been viewed as a threat, owing to their harmless behavioral pattern.

The Long Island visitor was apparently dying of a yet-to-be- ascertained cause, to which it reportedly succumbed later on. Although there didn’t seem to be any perceivable external injury or puncture wounds, the creature was barely breathing when washed ashore. A necropsy is to take place, reportedly, to determine the kind of affliction that the creature was suffering from.

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