Thursday, May 7, 2009

Basking Shark

Basking Shark

May 7, 2009 -- For centuries, scientists have wondered where basking sharks go in the wintertime. Now, they have an answer -- and it's full of surprises.

VIDEO: Watch a Discovery News reporter swim with sharks on video, and survive!

In the western Atlantic, the world's second largest fish swims all the way from New England to the Bahamas and across the equator to South America, a new study finds. Scientists have long thought that basking sharks spent all of their time in cooler waters.

"This is equivalent to finding polar bears in Kansas," said lead researcher Greg Skomal, a marine biologist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries in Martha's Vineyard. "This was a mind-blowing discovery for us."

Basking sharks have long been shrouded in mystery. These fish, which can measure 35 feet or longer, are known to live in temperate waters around the world. Yet, no one has ever examined a newborn basking shark. No one has seen a pregnant female. No one knows where the animals give birth.

And until recently, no one knew where they spent much of their time, particularly in the winter.

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