On the presence of basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) in the Mediterranean Sea
The presence of basking shark Cetorhinus maximus Gunnerus, 1765 throughout the Mediterranean Sea was investigated using data stored in the “Large Elasmobranch Monitoring” programme database (Italy), with new records coming from the French area and also including the first data from the eastern sector of the Mediterranean basin. More than 500 records of information on basking sharks were included in the database, with older records coming from the 19th century, but also including the most recent literature. Data revealed the presence of specimens of quite different sizes that ranged from very young (about 2 m TL) to large adults (8-9 m TL) encompassing large part of the body length range knownfor this shark at global scale. Most of the occurrences of the species in Mediterranean are reported off the coastal areas of the western central sectors of the Mediterranean basin, where it is often caught incidentally by trammel nets in spring. The numerous records registered in the last two decades may be related rather to an increasing scientific and public interest on the species than to an actual abundance trend of the Mediterranean population. The knowledge on the distribution and population structure of basking shark in the Mediterranean basin plays an important role in the implementation of conservation measures of such protected species.