A basking shark, a passive filter-feeder, a gentle giant of the ocean is always observed with its mouth wide open. That makes people question if it ever closes its mouth or not. Or is it even able to do so? Let’s unveil the mystery.
Basking sharks have a blackish or gray-brown body color with a pale brown underside. Their bodies have crescent-shaped tails and pointy snouts. They have relatively small teeth but very huge gill slits. They have five-gill slits encircling their head, each holding thousands of gill rackets. They have dorsal as well as pectoral fins.
Can a Basking Shark Close its Mouth?
Yes, basking sharks can close their mouth whenever they want but it is not a common sight. Commonly, basking sharks move with their mouths wide open to filter prey and keep feeding themselves.
Does a Basking Shark Have Teeth?
Basking sharks do have teeth. Basking sharks are enormous in size, but their teeth are minute. The jaws of basking sharks have 1500 teeth varying in size from 5 to 6 mm. These teeth are placed in six rows of their top jaw and nine rows of their lower jaw, with approximately 100 teeth in each row.
Basking shark teeth are relatively small and conical in shape, and they are not used for feeding or chewing. However, these teeth are used during mating because they use them to grip their partner. Because they are filter feeders, they lack long and pointed incisors.
What Does a Basking Shark Eat?
Because basking sharks are filter feeders, they like to eat plankton, specifically zooplankton. They eat shrimp, small fish, animal larvae, and animal eggs among zooplankton. They occasionally eat small crustaceans and jellyfish.
How Does a Basking Shark Eat?
Because basking sharks are poor swimmers, they engage in the obligate ram filter-feeding activity. They move through the oceans while keeping their mouths wide open and their special gill rakers then filter small plankton and crustaceans.
Do Basking Sharks Breathe By Keeping Their Mouth Open?
Yes, like most sharks, basking sharks follow the protocol of ram ventilation, and the water passing through their mouth, moves out of the gills, but before that, they extract the oxygen from the water – which allows them to breathe efficiently.
The Final Word
Basking sharks can close their mouth whenever they want, but they prefer to keep their mouth open for feeding and breathing purposes. They are filter-feeders so they keep filtering out the soft prey suited to their dietary habits and the water passing through their mouth helps them in breathing. They are truly remarkable specie and gentle giants of the ocean.