Thursday, May 20

Giant basking shark killed by fishermen off Baja California

Last week we reported the unfortunate death of a juvenile great white shark months after it was released by Monterey Bay Aquarium, as it was being tracked by scientists at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station.

Basking shasrk
The female shark, which was set free last November at a length of just under six feet, was traveling south along Baja California when it became trapped in an unattended gillnet off Ensenada.

Scientists merely had to follow the tag's signal to the home of the fisherman who caught the predator.

Now comes word of a giant basking shark killed, presumably, in the same manner just north of Ensenada off Rosarito Beach.

The gruesome photo is courtesy of Cesar Rivera, who shared what little information he had with 976-TUNA. Rivera estimated the basking shark to measure 26 feet, making it a full-sized adult.

Basking sharks, which are filter-feeding plankton-eaters, were once hunted globally for their fins, oil, meat and vitamin-rich livers, and they're classified as either vulnerable or endangered, depending on the region.

They're not commonly encountered off Baja California. But it's clear that this is an area all sharks would avoid if they knew enough about fishing practices there.

Unfortunately, juvenile white sharks that are presumably born off Southern California tend to migrate along the Baja peninsula and must unknowingly negotiate a minefield of nets if they're to survive.

Scientists have discovered this migratory habit via tracking studies but also by visiting fish camps, where they've found white shark heads in midden piles.

White sharks are protected in California and Mexico, but only in the sense that it's illegal to target them. Clearly, as long as there are indiscriminate nets in coastal waters, all sharks that utilize these waters are are, in fact, unprotected.

That their fins fetch a ridiculously high price in Asian markets--so people can enjoy their shark-fin soup--is another strike against them.

1 comment:

Let us know what you think!