Basking Sharks, Which Can Measure Over 30 Feet Long, Return to SoCal Waters

Ryan Lawler saw the dorsal fin in the distance, swaying slowly side to side, and assumed it was a great white shark. As his boat got closer, he saw the massive fish’s snout sticking out of the water, its mouth wide open.

Without fear, Lawler jumped in — to swim with the elusive basking shark.

“It was something we’d been dreaming about,” Lawler said. The owner of Pacific Offshore Expeditions had heard of basking sharks showing up recently along the Channel Islands and gone in search of one, as a kind of marine life bucket list item.

With some measuring more than 30 feet long, basking sharks are second in size only to whale sharks and are completely harmless. They have tiny teeth, and feed on copepods such as krill and plankton.

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