Known to Māori as reremai, the basking shark is a massive filter-feeder found in coastal waters around New Zealand, where there is a high density of zooplankton. Typically, it swims slowly near the surface with its enormous mouth wide open, taking in water and straining out zooplankton with special structures called gill rakers. Basking sharks often travel in pairs or in large schools of up to 50 individuals. They have become a threatened species: many have been killed as by-catch of hoki trawls around New Zealand, and they are commercially hunted in Asian waters.
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Photograph by Chris Gotschalk
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