Thursday, August 22, 2013

Know your sharks

Shark sightings always generate a lot of buzz. When people see a large dorsal fin cutting through the water, most of the public assumes that it is a great white shark. It's important to take these sightings seriously and clear the water—these are wild animals, after all. But the irony is that in Massachusetts, the vast majority of the time that fin actually belongs to a harmless basking shark.

Basking shark with divers | Photo: Chris Gotschalk via

The Massachusetts Fisheries Department has put together a fantastic video that points out some of the distinctions between these two species. As you try to squeeze in a few more trips to the beach before swapping swim suits for sweaters, here are some interesting facts to share with fellow beach-goers. Take a look!

Video by Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries via YouTube

The fin of a basking sharks can also be confused with large ocean sunfish, or mola mola. Here's another video that illustrates the differences between these two ocean animals.

Video: NECWA1 with Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries via YouTube

Sharks come in all shapes and sizes. Here are a couple more shark sightings on the Aquarium's blogs!

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