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Huge, sluggish shark (family Cetorhinidae) named for its habit of floating or slowly swimming at the surface. Possibly comprising more than one distinct species, it inhabits northern and temperate regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. It may grow as large as 46 ft (14 m); among fishes, only the whale shark grows larger. Despite its size, the basking shark feeds on plankton. It is gray-brown or blackish, with tiny teeth and very long gill slits. It is generally harmless and is hunted sporadically for fish meal and liver oil.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on basking shark, visit Britannica.com.