Whale watchers off Cape Cod watched in awe this week as an enormous basking shark appeared near a feeding humpback whale.
Basking shark sightings are rare, and the migration patterns of the planet’s second-largest fish – second to whale sharks – are still largely a mystery to scientists.
The accompanying footage, captured aboard a Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises vessel, shows the massive filter-feeder gliding just beneath the surface, its mouth agape, consuming plankton.
Though this was an extraordinary sighting, more dramatic was that of the humpback whale lunge-feeding at the surface, inspiring humorous commentary by the videographer, who deadpans after a massive gulp, “Are there any fish left?”
Basking sharks typically reach lengths of about 30 feet and are found in temperate waters around the world. Another basking shark sighting occurred earlier this month off Penzance, England.
That encounter was videotaped by a kayaker. Basking sharks, which pose no danger to humans, were named because of the lazy manner by which they swim in their endless search for plankton blooms.
They’re listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).