Species Profile

Basking Shark Atlantic population

Scientific Name: Cetorhinus maximus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2009
Last COSEWIC Designation: Special Concern
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.


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Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

5 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Basking Shark Atlantic population in Canada (2010)

    The Basking Shark is named after its conspicuous behaviour of "basking" (more accurately feeding) at the surface. The Basking Shark is distinguished from other sharks by its large size (it is the second largest fish in the world), elongated gill slits, pointed snout, a large mouth with minute teeth, and a crescent shaped caudal fin. Colouration is typically blackish to grey-brown. Gill openings have prominent gill rakers.

COSEWIC Assessments

  • COSEWIC Assessment & Status Report Summary: Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus - Atlantic population (2010)

    Assessment Summary – November 2009 Common name Basking Shark – Atlantic population Scientific name Cetorhinus maximus Status Special Concern Reason for designation This species, which attains a maximum length of over 15 m (the second largest living fish) is highly vulnerable to human–caused mortality because of its extremely low productivity. Females mature at 16 to 20 years old, gestate for 2.6 to 3.5 years (the longest known gestation period of any vertebrate), and produce litters of about 6 offspring. Based on recent tagging information, individuals in Canada are considered to be part of an Atlantic population shared with the USA, Europe, the Caribbean and northern South America. Population estimates in Canadian waters have large uncertainties and may number between 4918–10125 individuals. Population estimates outside Canadian waters are not available. Information from surveys along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida indicates no decline over the past two decades. However, available information suggests substantial population declines in the northeast Atlantic. The species is caught incidentally in trawl, longline, and gillnet fisheries in Atlantic Canada. Removals in fisheries with observer coverage have decreased since the 1980s consistent with a reduction in fishing effort, but information on bycatch from other fisheries is not available. There is no evidence of recovery following declines associated with fisheries in other parts of the range. Ship collisions are an additional threat. Occurrence Atlantic Ocean Status history Designated Special Concern in November 2009.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Basking Shark, Atlantic population (2010)

    This species, which attains a maximum length of over 15 m (the second-largest living fish) is highly vulnerable to human-caused mortality because of its extremely low productivity. Females mature at 16 to 20 years old, gestate for 2.6 to 3.5 years (the longest known gestation period of any vertebrate), and produce litters of about 6 offspring. Based on recent tagging information, individuals in Canada are considered to be part of an Atlantic population shared with the USA, Europe, the Caribbean and northern South America.  Population estimates in Canadian waters have large uncertainties and may number between 4918-10125 individuals. Population estimates outside Canadian waters are not available. Information from surveys along the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida indicates no decline over the past two decades. However, available information suggests substantial population declines in the northeast Atlantic. The species is caught incidentally in trawl, longline, and gillnet fisheries in Atlantic Canada.  Removals in fisheries with observer coverage have decreased since the 1980s consistent with a reduction in fishing effort, but information on bycatch from other fisheries is not available. There is no evidence of recovery following declines associated with fisheries in other parts of the range.  Ship collisions are an additional threat.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2010 (2010)

    Under Canada’s Species At Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. During the past year, COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings and reviewed the status of 79 wildlife species (species, subspecies, populations). During the meeting of November 2009, COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of the status of 28 wildlife species. COSEWIC assessed or reviewed the classification of an additional 51 wildlife species (species, subspecies and populations) during their April 2010 meeting. For species already found on Schedule 1 of SARA, the classification of 32 species was reviewed by COSEWIC and the status of the wildlife species was confirmed to be in the same category (extirpated - no longer found in the wild in Canada but occurring elsewhere, endangered, threatened or of special concern). The wildlife species assessment results for the 2009-2010 reporting period include the following: Extirpated: 6 Endangered: 39 Threatened: 16 Special Concern: 17 Data Deficient: 1 This report transmits to the Minister the status of 46 species newly classified as extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern, fulfilling COSEWIC’s obligations under SARA Section 24 and 25. A full detailed summary of the assessment for each species and the reason for the designation can be found in Appendix I of the attached report. Since its inception, COSEWIC has assessed 602 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 262 Endangered, 151 Threatened, 166 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated. In addition, 13 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct. Also, to date, 46 wildlife species have been identified by COSEWIC as Data Deficient and 166 wildlife species were assessed as Not at Risk. This year has been a particularly productive year for COSEWIC’s Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK) Subcommittee. In April 2010 COSEWIC approved the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Process and Protocol Guidelines, providing clear and agreed principles for the gathering of Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge to carry out COSEWIC functions as required under Section 15(2) of SARA (See Appendix III of the attached report). We are grateful for the rich and enthusiastic contribution made by community elders and experts in helping the ATK Subcommittee prepare the ATK protocols.

Consultation Documents