The basking shark is the largest fish in British waters growing up to 9.8m long, its size being the most obvious distinguishing feature. Smaller specimens can be identified by the stout body, moon-shaped tail and the 5 long gill slits that run from the back behind the head to round under the throat. The gill arches carry a large number of gill rakers that act as a filter to catch the plankton upon which the shark feeds. The basking shark is slate grey to black dorsally, lighter ventrally, with pale patches under the snout and on the belly. Filtered water is expelled through the greatly enlarged gill slits. Basking sharks generally live in open waters but migrate towards the shore in summer, when they can be seen 'basking' , i.e., swimming slowly at the surface with the mouth wide open with the snout and dorsal fin visible above water.Cetorhinus maximus are solitarily but can gather in aggregations of sometimes hundreds of individuals, to feed or mate.
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