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This Giant Shark Was Accidentally Caught Off The Australian Coast

We're gonna need a bigger boat.

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That, friends, is a basking shark and it's just a little bit terrifying.

The 6.5 metre monster was accidentally reeled in by commercial fishermen off the coast of Portland, Victoria. And although they could have made a killing by selling the beast to be turned into shark fin soup, they decided to donate the body to science.

Now the Victoria Museum will be given the rare opportunity - The museum has only encountered three in 160 years - to check out the specimen up close.

Scientists will take tissue samples, stomach contents and vertebrae from the shark for research.

"These rare encounters can provide many of the missing pieces of knowledge that help broader conservation and biological research," Dr Martin Golon, Museum Victoria's Senior Curator of Ichthyology said.

The samples will help scientists learn more about the relationships between northern and southern hemisphere basking shark populations, as well as ageing studies, dietary studies and isotope analysis from muscle and cartilage, the museum said in a press release.

Di Bray, Senior Collection Manager of Vertebrate Zoology, said it was unusual, but not unheard of to see basking sharks in the area, but that they have proven elusive to scientists.

"As they do not need to breathe air like whales and dolphins, they are not so commonly seen at the surface. We have no idea of what their numbers may be," she said.

While they can grow up to 12 metres long, they're slow moving, gentle plankton feeders who use their huge mouths and gills to strain the water for food.

The basking shark is listed as vulnerable due to overfishing.

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