National Geographic Wildlife filmmaker and photographer Bertie Gregory recently spotted a mysterious animal swimming off the coast of Scotland.
That animal has been identified to be a basking shark, the second biggest fish in the world. Research shows that this supposed sea monster can grow to more than 10 meters (30 ft) long. An adult basking shark could weight up to 5,200 kg (11,464 pounds).
It is quite difficult to study this fish from below the surface of the sea, due to it’s massive size and poor underwater visibility. But Bertie Gregory was able to capture clearly the wonderful features of this giant fish with the help of a drone.
Watch the videos below and admire the amazing features of the fish:
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Meet the second biggest fish in the world: the basking shark, captured here by @bertiegregory. Who can tell us what they eat? Comment below! These giants can grow to more than 10 meters (30 ft) long. Studying them from the surface has been difficult; you don’t see much other than a dorsal fin and a bit of mouth and tail on a calm day. Underwater visibility may not be great, and your view doesn’t last long as the shark swims away. But from the air, it's a different story. Drones have revolutionized both wildlife film and science, and even a simple top-down shot like this allows us to analyze the mechanics of their feeding and provides a sense of how they move. This technology is also giving us as an insight into the mysterious social lives of basking sharks. It’s pretty crazy to think how little we know about the interactions and movements of the second biggest fish on the planet! #drone #britishwildlife #underwater #baskingshark #shark
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Although basking sharks are the second biggest fish in the sea, they have tiny prey. They eat zooplankton, with particular preference for a group of tiny crustaceans called copepods. After locating a zooplankton patch, they open their giant mouths and swim through it, as shown in this video by @bertiegregory. The huge white gill arches contain rakers—structures that snag plankton from the water that passes through the mouth. Unlike many other species of filter feeders that are able to pump water past these gill rakers, basking sharks feed passively. This means they must swim to eat. Given their huge size, they need to do a lot of eating—and therefore a lot of swimming. It’s estimated they can filter two million liters of water an hour! Concerned about being swallowed by these gentle giants? While they have a three-foot-wide mouth, their throats are incredibly narrow, so even if they wanted to swallow a person (which they don’t), they physically couldn’t! #britishwildlife #underwater #freediving #baskingshark #shark
Do you know, the most interesting thing about this wonderful creature is that it gets sustained by feeding on zooplankton (very tiny organisms drifting in oceans, seas, and bodies of fresh water) despite it’s gigantic nature.
According to Nat Geo, they have a preference for a particular group of zooplankton called copepods. But they have to carry their massive body to locate a patch of copepods, then open their giant mouth and swim through it, while the gills does the filtering.
Another amazing thing about the basking shark is that it cannot swallow a person with it’s wide mouth, because their throats are incredibly narrow. In fact they mostly referred to as gentle giants of the sea. What an amazing fish!