My New Year’s Resolution? Join a Shiver of Basking Sharks
Get in shape? Spend more time with friends? Fall in love? All nice ideas. But this year, I’m going with something unique. In 2014, I’m joining the basking sharks.
Wait, isn’t that a bit…insane?
Not with these sharks! They are giants, at up to 9.75 m (32 ft), but they are not aggressive at all. There is no documentation that they have ever attacked humans. Instead, they are peaceful filter feeders who dine on zooplankton. Though they have small teeth, they use their enormous gill rakers to strain out their food. No more cooking? Count me in!
Okay, but do they really “bask”?
In fact, they do! True to their common name, basking sharks “bask” in the sun at the surface of the water. They are often observed doing this in small groups. Chillin’ in the water and soaking in the rays. Not looking so bad now, is it?!
Won’t your social life take a hit?
Actually, no. Basking sharks are quite social. In addition to sunning themselves as a group, they seem to enjoy slowly swimming together in small shivers of a single gender at a max of about 3.7 km/hr (2.3 mph). In fact, they have been observed swimming in nose to tail circles in the North Atlantic. It’s the ocean’s version of elephants that walk in a line and use their trunk to hold onto the tail in front of them. Think of it as a chance to relive your elementary school field trip days when you all held hands in a line.
Won’t you miss having a chance to travel and see the world?
You might think that these huge, slow-moving creatures stay in one area year-round, but they are actually migratory, and travel great distances each year. As a result of satellite tagging, scientists have confirmed that these sharks can travel thousands of miles a year. Though their behavior is not completely understood, they definitely follow concentrations of plankton, known as blooms. In order to efficiently consume their prey, they can open their mouths up to a meter wide, and push 1,800 tons of water through their gills in an hour! So in addition the incredible experiences I’d have living with these sharks and discovering more about them, I’d also be able to experience the world and travel throughout the temperate seas.
I guess the only question remaining is – Do you want to join me?