Cetorhinus maximus


Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus, 1765)



Species Category

Fauna - Fish - Native


According to the IUCN (see link on right) the Basking Shark has been exploited for several centuries to supply liver oil for lighting and industrial use, skin for leather and flesh for food or fishmeal. Modern fisheries yield liver oil, fins, meat and cartilage.

Research on basking sharks

Seas between the islands of Skye and Mull on Scotland’s west coast are highly important for basking sharks, according to a report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). Each year large numbers of basking sharks are seen in an area of the Sea of the Hebrides which is currently being assessed as part of the Scottish Marine Protected Areas Project. For more information on the project and to follow tagged basking sharks online, go to http://www.snh.gov.uk/basking-shark-tagging

Have you found a tag?

The research programme underway near Mull involves tagging basking sharks. These tags tend to fall off after a few months. The tags are silver grey, torpedo shaped and 15 to 18 cm in length with a small antenna. If found please pick up and contact the SNH office in Oban on 0300 244 9360, or email baskingsharks@snh.gov.uk.


For more information about basking sharksin the Hebrides go to the website of the Hebridean Whale & Dolphin Trust. This was established in 1994  (based in Tobermory) and is a registered charity that has pioneered practical, locally-based education and monitoring programmes on cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in the Hebrides.

Legal protection

The Basking Shark is strictly protected under wildlife legislation within 12 nautical miles of the Isle of Man and Guernsey (United Kingdom dependent territories) and in British waters.

References and further reading

Fowler, S.L. 2005.  Cetorhinus maximus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 18 June 2015.

This page last updated on 19 Jun 2015