Rare Basking Shark Photographed in Puget Sound

19-year-old Grace Coale got the surprise of a lifetime when a 25-foot-long basking shark swam in front of the boat she was fishing in with her father.

Spotting a large fin coming her way Coale immediately grabbed her camera and began taking photos as the massive shark crossed the bow of her boat. Coale and her father were fishing for salmon and crabbing on Puget Sound near Meadowdale Wharf.

The photos were confirmed to be of a basking shark by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in La Jolla, California.

Basking Shark diver
Divers swimming beside a feeding basking shark. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Basking Sharks are the second largest fish on the planet, topped only by the whale shark and are one of three plankton-eating sharks. They are recognized by their large sub-terminal mouths that they use for filter-feeding.

Once a relatively common sight in Puget Sound and along the Pacific coast, basking sharks were a targetted in the 20th century for their large livers and fins. They are considered "vulnerable" by the IUCN Red List and the North Pacific and Northeast Atlantic stocks are listed as "endangered."

Anyone who sees a basking shark is asked to call 858-334-2884 or email the NOAA at basking.shark@noaa.gov to help track their migration patterns.

Source: The Seattle Times

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