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COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Basking Shark (Pacific population) in Canada


The writing of this report required the collaboration of many people. Historical information was diligently assembled and made available from Brian Gisborne, who put several weeks of volunteer time into this task--thank you. Mapping was done by Vanessa Hodes and by staff at the Pacific Biological Station.

This report was handled for COSEWIC by Mart Gross and Howard Powles (Co-chairs, Marine Fishes Specialist Subcommittee) and by Jeff Hutchings and Chris Wood (Marine Fishes Specialist Subcommittee Members).

Authorities Consulted

Federal government (DFO) authorities on this species are co-authors of this report. The British Columbia Conservation Data Centre has not assessed the basking shark. Findings from international conservation organizations are included in the report (i.e., IUCN and CITES).

Information Sources

BC Archives. 2004. Visual Records. Accessed May 2004. Photograph call #: D-02035

BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer. 2003. Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Available: (September 15, 2004).

Bigelow, H.B. and Schroeder, W.C. 1948. Fishes of the western North Atlantic: Sharks. Mem. Sears Foundation 1(I):59-576.

Clemens, W.A. and G.V. Wilby. 1935. The sharks of British Columbia waters. Fisheries Research Board of Canada Progress Report 23:3-6.

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Volume 2. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes. No. 1, Vol. 2. Rome, FAO. 269 pp.

Darling, J.D., pers. comm. 2003. Telephone conversation with S. Wallace. November 2003. Pacific Wildlife Foundation, Tofino, British Columbia.

Darling, J. D., pers. comm. 2005. Email correspondence with S. Wallace. August 2005. Pacific Wildlife Foundation, Tofino, British Columbia.

Darling, J.D. and K.E. Keogh. 1994. Observations of basking sharks, Cetorhinus maximus, in Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia. Canadian Field Naturalist 108(2):199-210.

Dawson, G.M. 1880. Report on the Queen Charlotte Islands. Report of Progress, Geological Survey of Canada, Dawson Brothers Montreal.

Drucker, P. 1951. The Northern and Central Nootkan Tribes. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 144. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Fairfax, D. 1998. The basking shark in Scotland: natural history, fishery and conservation. Tuckwell Press, East Linton, Scotland. 206 pp.

Fletcher, P. pers. comm. 2004. Telephone conversation with S. Wallace. July 2004. Writer and previous deckhand on the patrol vessel the Laurier.

Ford, J.K.B., pers. comm. 2004. Email correspondence to S. Wallace. September 2004. Senior Scientist, Cetacean Research Program, Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Ford, J.K.B., pers. comm. 2005. Email correspondence to S. Wallace. May 2005. Senior Scientist, Cetacean Research Program, Pacific Biological Station, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Fowler, S. 2000. Cetorhinus maximus. In: IUCN 2003. 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Fowler, S. 2000. Cetorhinus maximus (Northeast Atlantic subpopulation). In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 15 July 2006.

Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors. 2005. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.

George, E.M. 2003. Living on the edge: Nuu-chah-nulth history from an Ahousat chief’s perspective. Sononis Press, Winlaw, British Columbia.

Gisborne, B. pers. comm. 2004a. Telephone conversation with S. Wallace. November 2004. Owner/Operator, Juan de Fuca Express Water Taxi, Victoria, British Columbia.

Gisborne, J. pers. comm. 2004b. Telephone conversation with S. Wallace. November 2004. Long time coastal resident and retired surveyor, Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Gisborne, B. pers. comm. 2006. Conversation with S. Wallace. July 2006. Owner/Operator, Juan de Fuca Express Water Taxi, Victoria, British Columbia.

Green. 1891. The economic fishes of British Columbia. Papers and Communications Read Before the Natural History Society of British Columbia 1(1):20-33.

Harvey-Clark, C.J., W.T. Stobo, H. Helle, and M. Mattson. 1999 Putative mating behaviour in basking sharks off the Nova Scotia coast. Copeia 3: 780-782.

Hoelzel, A.R. 2001. Shark fishing in fin soup. Conservation Genetics2:69-72.

Jordan, D. S. 1887. Coast of California. In: The Whale Fishery. U.S. Comm. of Fish and Fisheries, Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States, Sec. V, vol. 2:51‑61.

Kohler, N., J.G. Casey, and P.A. Turner. 1998. NMFS Cooperative Shark Tagging Program, 1962-93: an atlas of shark tag and recapture data. Marine Fisheries Review 60:1-87.

LeBlond, P.H. and E.L. Bousfield. 1995. Cadborosaurus survivor from the deep. Horsdal and Schubart Publishers Ltd. 134 p.

Leriche, M. 1905. Les poissons Eocenes de la Belgique. Mem. Musee Roy. Hist. Nt. Belgique, 33:49-228.

Lien, J. and Fawcett, L. 1986. Distribution of basking sharks Cetorhinus maximus incidentally caught in inshore fishing gear in Newfoundland. Canadian Field Naturalist 100:246-252.

Martin, R.A. 2005 pers. comm. Email correspondence to S.Wallace. May 2005. Director, ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Matthews, L.H. 1950. Reproduction in the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus, Gunner). Proceedings of the Zoological Society London 120(53):535-587.

Owen, R.E. 1984. Distribution and ecology of the basking shark Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus 1765). Master’s Thesis. University of Rhode Island.

Parker, H.W. and M. Boeseman. 1954. The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) in winter. Proceedings of the Zoological Society London 124:185-194.

Parker, H.W. and F.C. Stott. 1965. Age, size and vertebral calcification in the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus (Gunnerus). Zoologische Mededelingen 40: 305-319.

Pauly, D. 2002. Growth and mortality of the basking shark Cetorhinus maximus and their implications for management of whale sharks Rhincodon typus. Pp. 199-208. in S.L. Fowler, T.M. Reed and F.A. Dipper (eds.). Elasmobranch biodiversity, conservation and management. Proceedings of the International Seminar and Workshop, Sabah, Malaysia, July 1997 IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

Peterson, J. 1999. Journeys: Down the Alberni Canal to Barkley Sound. Oolichan Books, Lantzville, British Columbia. Canada. 395 pp.

Phillips, J.B. 1948. Basking shark fishery revived in California. California Fish and Game 34:11-23.

Pinnell, N. pers. comm. 2004. Email correspondence to S. Wallace. July 2004. Researcher, BC Cetaceans Sighting Network, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Sciences Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Roedel, P.M. and W.M.E. Ripley. 1950. California sharks and rays. California Department Fish Game Fishery Bulletin 64:7-37.

Sims, D.W. 1999. Threshold foraging behaviour of basking sharks on zooplankton: life on an energetic knife-edge? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences 266: 1437-1443.

Sims, D.W., A.M. Fox, and D.A. Merrett. 1997. Basking shark occurrence off south-west England in relation to zooplankton abundance. Journal of Fish Biology 51:436-440.

Sims, D.W. and V.A. Quayle. 1998. Selective foraging behaviour of basking sharks on zooplankton in a small-scale front. Nature393:460-464.

Sims, D.W., E.J. Southall, V.A. Quayle, and A.M. Fox. 2000. Annual social behaviour of basking shark associated with coastal front areas. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 267:1897-1904.

Sims, D.W., E.J. Southall, A.J. Richardson, P.C. Reid, and J.D. Metcalfe. 2003. Seasonal movements and behaviour of basking sharks from archival tagging: no evidence of winter hibernation. Marine Ecology Progress Series 248:187-196.

Skomal, G.B., G. Wood, and N. Caloyianis. 2004. Archival tagging of a basking shark, Cetorhinus maxiumus, in the western North Atlantic. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 84:795-799.

Skomal, G. B. 2005. Basking shark tagging update. Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, DMF News. Volume 25 Page. 6.

Smith, S.E., D. Au and C. Show. 1998. Intrinsic rebound potentials of 26 species of Pacific sharks. Marine and Freshwater Research49:663-678.

Squire, J.L. 1967. Observations of basking sharks and great white sharks in Monterey Bay. 1948-1950. Copeia 1967(1):47-54.

Squire, J.L. 1990. Distribution and apparent abundance of the basking shark, Cetorhinus maximus, off the central and southern California coast, 1962-1985. Marine Fisheries Review 52(2):8-11.

Swan, J.G. 1868. The Indians of Cape Flattery. Smithsonian Institution.

United Kingdom. 2002. Inclusion of the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) on Appendix II of CITES. Conference to the Parties, Proposal 12.36.

Van Sommeran, S.R., pers. comm. 2004. Telephone conversation with author. April 2004. Executive Director, Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, California.

Wallace, S. and B. Gisborne. 2006. Basking Sharks: The Slaughter of BC’s Gentle Giants. Vancouver, New Star Books. 88 pp.

Watkins, A. 1958. The Sea My Hunting Ground. London, Heinemann. 250 pp.

Wilson, S. G. 2004. Basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) schooling in the southern Gulf of Maine. Fisheries Oceanography. 13:283-286.