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So Apparently Basking Sharks Can Jump Out of the Water Like Great Whites

Mesmerizing footage captured off Ireland, Scotland and England showed multiple basking sharks breaching.

Shark Week loves itself some breaching sharks and usually features many powerful shots of great whites charging up out of the water. But they're not the only sharks that are able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Basking sharks can breach too — and they do.

According to Science Daily, researchers at Trinity College in Dublin teamed up with other marine scientists to study the giant sharks' propensity to leap from the sea.

Mesmerizing footage captured off Ireland, Scotland and England showed multiple basking sharks breaching.

According to LiveScience, 600 breaches were recorded in 90 hours.

basking sharks breachingGiphy/Trinity College

But it's not just exciting that basking sharks breach. What's really important is that they do so at the same speeds that great whites do.

According to LiveScience, the research showed that basking sharks were going up to 11 miles per hour and jumping up to 4 feet above the surface of the ocean. Great whites were hitting up to 10.7 miles per hour. They can jump up to 8 feet, according to the Atlantic.

So, even though basking sharks are stereotyped as lazy since they usually drift along collecting krill in their giant mouths, they are certainly capable of speeds and jumps nearly equal to that of great white sharks.

Just no one was paying attention until now.

basking sharks breaching

Giphy/Trinity College

There is one big difference in why the two shark species breach, though. Great whites are known for performing that maneuver when sneak-attacking prey from below.

That can be seen here:

basking sharks breaching


Since basking sharks eat krill, no such powerful attack is necessary. But there are other theories for their leaps. LiveScience reported that the researchers said it's possible the gentle giant sharks are jumping to display dominance, as a mating ritual, or even to signal that there's food there.

The Food and Agriculture Organization's species catalogue also noted that basking sharks may breach to dislodge parasites or hangers-on like lampreys or remoras.

In any case, it's a great example of how we still don't know all about our ocean's creatures and their secrets.

We better keep our eyes peeled or we're going to miss more scientific breakthroughs jumping right in front of our faces.

Add your name right now to ban the trade of shark fins in the U.S. and protect our oceans with Oceana.

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