Basking Sharks: The Slaughter of BC's Gentle Giants.


94 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-55420-022-9
DDC 333.95'633





Reviewed by Ann Turner

Ann Turner is Financial and Budget Manager at the University of British
Columbia Library.


The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish in the world, about the size of a London bus. Until the 1960s it existed in great numbers on the west coast of Vancouver Island in Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds. The placid, slow-moving plankton eaters feeding near the surface were so numerous that they impeded boat traffic in the area, but it was their frequent unwitting entanglements in the nets of commercial fishermen that resulted in their death warrant: classification as “Destructive Pests” by the federal fisheries department in 1949. From then on they were hunted to eradication. Not a single basking shark has been seen in the area in over a decade. This book originated in marine conservationist Scott Wallace’s research for two other reports on basking sharks, one for the B.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club of Canada and the other for the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Little was known about the natural history of basking sharks, and their portrayal in the media was misleading to the point of being inflammatory. This fascinating study sets the record straight and points out the fragility of the marine ecosystem. Embodying all known historical information and the most recent scientific knowledge, it is the most comprehensive report available on basking sharks in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.


Wallace, Scott, and Brian Gisborne., “Basking Sharks: The Slaughter of BC's Gentle Giants.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,