Yesterday, a 26 foot long basking shark washed up on a beach in Long Island, NY, weighing in at an estimated 5,000 lbs. Basking sharks, while mainly plankton eaters and posing no threat to man, can grow to intimidating sizes; the second largest fish in the ocean after the whale shark, it is known to grow up to 35 feet long. One interesting thing to note is that many supposed “sea monster” carcasses that have washed up on shores in the past were often merely rotting basking shark remains. One of the most famous instances occurred in 1977 when a Japanese fishing vessel trawled up an unidentified carcass which some speculated were the remains of a plesiosaur, an extinct sea-going reptile from the age of dinosaurs.
Here’s an excellent article about that event and the conclusions some researchers have come to regarding the possible identity of the creature: http://www.paleo.cc/paluxy/plesios.htm And below, for your viewing pleasure, is video of the dead shark, courtesy of our friends at CNN. NOTE: if the video does not work, here’s the URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1uagE_dzyk