Basking Shark Washes Ashore in Rhode Island

(Photo Credit: Chris Gotschalk/Wiki Commons)

WESTERLY, R.I. (TheBlaze/AP) — A 28-foot-long dead basking shark has washed ashore on a Rhode Island beach.

The Day of New London (Conn.) reports that a homeowner in the Misquamicut beach area of Westerly reported the shark to police on Sunday morning.

“Police then contacted the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management which then asked Mystic Aquarium to investigate,” The Day writes.

Biologists with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center are expected to perform a necropsy to determine how the creature died, which may lend some insight as to why it washed ashore.

Basking Shark Washes Ashore in Rhode Island

This photo provided by the Mystic Aquarium shows a 28-foot-long dead basking shark which was found washed ashore on a Rhode Island beach, Sunday, April 28, 2013. The Day of New London. (Photo: AP)

The shark, which is one of the largest living creatures in the ocean, has apparently been attracting curious onlookers who have stopped to take photos and touch it.

According to BBC Nature, only the whale shark is bigger than the basking shark.

The BBC report continues:

Despite a superficial similarity to the fearsome great white shark and a massive jaw one metre wide, basking sharks are actually harmless filter feeders. They use more than 5,000 gill rakers to strain plankton from around 1.5 million litres of water per hour. Basking sharks are born travellers, covering large distances in search of food, at the very leisurely pace of only three miles per hour.

The BBC also has stunning footage of a basking shark swimming mere feet from a man in his canoe: