Basking Shark

The basking shark, used to be abundant off the West Coast. In the U.S.,  basking sharks are listed as a species of concern dealing with the Eastern North Pacific population. The Species of Concern Program provides opportunities for NOAA Fisheries and its partners to work together on research and on-the ground conservation efforts that benefit the species and improve our understanding of their status.

The population of basking sharks off the West Coast declined dramatically in the 1900's when they were targeted in fisheries and eradication programs. Like most other sharks, basking sharks are highly vulnerable due to their low reproductive rates. Scientists in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are collecting information on basking sharks to improve our understanding of their basic biology, movements, favorite habitats, and patterns of abundance.

In 2010, and 2011, NOAA Fisheries funded two projects to examine the habitat and movements of basking sharks along the western coast of North America. Under these projects, researchers at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center(SWFSC) and several partners have been examining historical records of basking shark sightings, coordinating with international partners on research and data collection, and deploying satellite tags on basking sharks. Three satellite tags have been deployed, one in 2010, and two in 2011. Tracking data from one of these tags show that basking sharks travel from the California coast offshore to waters close to Hawaii. This research is critical to the conservation of basking sharks in the Pacific Ocean.

How you can Help!

If you see a basking shark in West Coast waters and are able to call from your vessel, please contact John Hyde at (760) 408-7726 or Heidi Dewar at (858)546-7023

If you would like to report a sighting  of a basking shark after returning to land in West Coast waters please report the following: