Remarkable Encounter: Discovery of an Unusual Shark Marks First Sighting of Second Largest Marine Creature in Australian Waters in 85 Years
A crew led by James Owen stumbled upon a rare 6.3-meter basking shark while trawling near PortlɑпԀ, Victoria, inadvertently revealing the presence of this colossal species in Australian waters. Rather than capitalizing on its sought-after value, Owen and his team opted to donate the massive male shark, distinguished by its pinkish-purple skin hue and enormous flat snout, to scientific study.
Only surpassed in size by the whale shark, this gigantic fish’s appearance comes as an enigma. The last documented capture of this species occurred in the 1930s, whereas prior records extend back to 1883 in southwest Victoria. Dr. Martin Goмᴏп, a marine biologist, praised the fishermen’s choice to involve the Melbourne Museum in their discovery.
Dr. Goмᴏп lauded the decision, stating, ‘Basking shark fins would be highly sought because they’re very big. This basking shark’s pectoral fins were probably over a meter in length and 60cm or more wide, and there were two of those. Its cuttle fin probably spans 1 meter to 1.2 meters. There are other fins, too: the pelvic fins.’
Handling the massive creature proved no easy feat; Dr. Goмᴏп and his team required a crane to hoist the basking shark onto their boat. Subsequently, it took an astounding five hours to dissect the shark into manageable pieces.
Museum Victoria’s senior collections manager, Dianne Bray, highlighted the significance of this find. Researchers plan to extract vertebrae for age determination, skin samples for DNA analysis, and muscle tissue for stable isotope studies, shedding light on the species’ behavior and diet. Additionally, the museum intends to create a model of the shark’s fins and head.
The basking shark’s mystique remains shrouded in mystery, as the reclusive planktᴏп-ᴇɑting creatures spend most of their lives near the water’s surface, absorbing the sun’s rays. This latest discovery adds to the limited knowledge surrounding this enigmatic marine giant.