basking shark feeds near the surface of the water

A basking shark feeds in the Santa Barbara Channel near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kristin Campbell/Newport Coastal Adventure

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

researcher affixes a satellite tag to a basking shark
Sanctuary researcher Dr. Ryan Freedman affixes a satellite tag to a basking shark. Photo: Pike Spector/NOAA

Basking sharks are the second largest shark species in the world. Measuring up to 30 feet as adults, these enormous sharks are about as long as a school bus – but as filter feeders, they eat tiny crustaceans about the size of a grain of rice. Though basking sharks are huge, little is known about these skittish sharks, particularly about their migration patterns and how changing ocean conditions may impact their behavior. Fortunately, researchers at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary recently deployed some of the first basking shark satellite tags.