A 20-foot basking shark was accidentally caught off the coast of Australia and donated to a museum for research purposes and to be displayed.
Basking sharks are considered “vulnerable” due to years of over-harvest for food, oil, fins, and medicine. They are the second largest fish in the world and are rarely spotted in Australian waters. Save Our Sharks, an Australian group working to do just what their name suggests, claims that millions of sharks die annually after being caught in nets meant for other fish, known as bycatch.
The shark causing all the excitement came in at 20 feet long and weighed 2.8 tons. Scientists at the Museum Victoria will study the rare basking shark before collecting parts to be used as a model for a museum display.
Fishermen aboard the vessel who caught the basking shark reported that the fish was dead before it was brought aboard. While the accidental catch was unfortunate, the ship’s crew did the right thing by donating the shark to the Museum Victoria instead of selling it on the lucrative fin and meat market.
A representative of the Museum stated that, “It provides a rare opportunity to conduct scientific research into this species. This will help Museum Victoria with conservation efforts and biological research.”
This is just the third basking shark the Museum Victoria has encountered in over 160 years. Senior curator of ichthyology, Dr. Martin Gomon said, “These rare encounters can provide many of the missing pieces of knowledge that help broader conservation and biological research.”