Video: Big shark washes ashore

updated 7/15/2009 11:12:40 AM ET 2009-07-15T15:12:40

A 20-foot-long basking shark that washed ashore on a beach on New York's Long Island appears to have died from some kind of illness.

New York State Parks official George Gorman says researchers will examine the shark to determine a cause of death. After that, it will be buried in nearby sand dunes on the beach.

The basking shark, which are common in the waters off Long Island, washed ashore Tuesday on a town beach a few miles east of Jones Beach.

Basking sharks, the second-largest known shark after the whale shark, are not considered dangerous. They eat plankton.

According to marine biologists, these sharks have no teeth and are called basking sharks because they are often observed when feeding at the surface and appear to be basking in the water. They can grow up to 30 feet long, experts said.

Tracy Marcus of Cornell Cooperative Extension says the shark that washed ashore weighs about a ton. She says it is unusual for an ailing basking shark to come ashore. Usually they die in the ocean.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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