Experts Are Confused by These Swarms of Huge Sharks

A new study of aerial surveys found that basking sharks sometimes congregate in groups of over a thousand.

Basking sharks are the second biggest shark in the world. (Getty Images)
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Swarms of up to 1,400 basking sharks have been spotted along the northeastern U.S. coast, confusing experts who know the species to be normally solitary beasts. Aerial surveys, which were originally meant to locate endangered North Atlantic right whales, have revealed massive groups of the world’s second-largest fish, reports National Geographic. 

Basking sharks are harmless towards humans and are outsized only by whale sharks. They can be up to 32 feet long and are usually found in the deep sea, making them difficult to track down. A new study published in the Journal of Fish Biology discusses 10 sightings of large groups of basking sharks between 1980 and 2013 along the coast of Nova Scotia to Long Island.

Other shark species are known to band together for feeding, mating and protection from predators. Researchers also wonder if the sharks are gathering together to reduce the drag caused by their open mouths during feeding. When in a group, they can draft off each other and conserve energy. However, there is no definite reason for the group of the sharks.

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