The 20-foot (6.3-meter) long shark hails from the world’s second biggest fish species, behind whale sharks. It was caught accidentally by a trawler off Portland in southwestern Australia.
The shark is causing a sensation Down Under, where only three basking sharks have been reported in 160 years, according to Museum Victoria
. The last one caught off the country was in the 1930s.
The sharks can grow up to 39 feet (12 meters) long and are known for their gentle nature.
The fish are called basking sharks
) because people occasionally see them at the surface, where they filter out tiny prey like copepods and shrimps for their dinners. But when prey is scarce at the surface they often dive deep, up to around 3,280 feet (1,000 meters), where they have been observed staying for months, based on satellite tags.
Not a lot is known about the distribution of the basking shark around the world, says Heidi Dewar
, a biologist who studies the species with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in La Jolla, California.