Basking sharks

What is it: 

Basking shark (cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish in the world and the largest in British waters, growing up to 9.8m in length.  They are known to migrate over large distances in both offshore and coastal waters at depths from the surface to over 750m.  They are particularly associated with tidal fronts on the continental shelf and shelf edge where they feed on plankton.

They have been recorded from around the whole Scottish coast, with sightings peaking in the summer months especially at a number of locations on the west coast.

There are three groups of layers included:

  1. Statistical approaches to aid identification of Marine Protected Areas for Basking Sharks. Based on SNH Commissioned Report No. 594, these include:
    • Observed adjusted densities of Basking shark; and
    • Modelled persistence of above mean density of Basking shark (summers 2001-2012)
  2. Basking shark effort related sightings displays Aggregated annual effort related Basking shark sightings data from the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, the Wave Action Trust and The Wildlife Trust for various years (2003-2011).
  3. Basking shark satellite tagging data (2012-2015) for a number of individual sharks.

as well as a general 'sightings and distribution' layer.

Links to Scotland's Marine Atlas: 
Data originators: 
This information page is part of the theme: 
Elevated view of a feeding Basking shark
Basking shark - Copyright © SNH

Links and Resources

Map Type Click title for metadata and licence informationsort descending Date of data View Map
NMPi 2003 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2003-01-01 to 2003-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2003 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Wave Action and The Wildlife Trusts Basking shark survey 2003 to 2006) 2003-01-01 to 2003-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2004 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2004-01-01 to 2004-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2004 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Wave Action and The Wildlife Trusts Basking shark survey 2003 to 2006) 2004-01-01 to 2004-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2005 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2005-01-01 to 2005-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2005 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Wave Action and The Wildlife Trusts Basking shark survey 2003 to 2006) 2005-01-01 to 2005-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2006 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2006-01-01 to 2006-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2006 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Wave Action and The Wildlife Trusts Basking shark survey 2003 to 2006) 2006-01-01 to 2006-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2007 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2007-01-01 to 2007-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2008 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2008-01-01 to 2008-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2009 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2009-01-01 to 2009-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2010 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2010-01-01 to 2010-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2011 annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2011-01-01 to 2011-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2012 Basking shark surface positions from Satellite tagging data 2012-01-01 to 2013-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2013 Basking shark surface positions from Satellite tagging data 2012-01-01 to 2013-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi 2014 Basking shark surface positions from Satellite tagging data Access this map on NMPi
NMPi Aggregated annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust Effort Related Sightings data 2003 to 2011) 2003-01-01 to 2011-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi Aggregated annual effort related Basking shark sightings per kilometre (Wave Action and The Wildlife Trusts Basking shark survey 2003 to 2006) 2003-01-01 to 2006-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi Basking shark incidental sightings and distribution in Scotland's seas Access this map on NMPi
NMPi Modelled persistence of above mean density of Basking shark summers 2001 to 2012 2001-01-01 to 2012-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi Observed adjusted densities of Basking shark all seasons 2000 to 2012 2000-01-01 to 2012-12-31 Access this map on NMPi
NMPi Observed adjusted densities of Basking shark all seasons 2000 to 2012 mapped as graduated symbols 2000-01-01 to 2012-12-31 Access this map on NMPi