Hollywood’s “Jaws” did the White Shark no favours–portraying this species as a man-eating monster, resulting in widespread fear of not just White sharks, but many other shark species as well. But the White shark is slowly shaking its bad reputation, as more people begin to appreciate the fascinating ecology and conservation issues surrounding this endangered species.
One aspect of White shark biology that we are recently beginning to understand is the vast distances this species covers–thanks to tagging projects around the world. Two weeks ago, we mentioned Lydia, the White shark tagged off of Jacksonville, Florida in March 2013. Lydia was tracked north up to Placentia Bay, Newfoundland in October 2013, travelling over 7000km! Since October, Lydia has travelled more than half-way across the North Atlantic and then headed south, along the mid-Atlantic Ridge.
Lydia isn’t the only White shark tagged in US waters that has been tracked into Canadian waters. Researchers from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in Massachusetts have been tagging White sharks off Cape Cod and at least six of their sharks to date have been detected in Canadian waters, including the Bay of Fundy, Scotian Shelf and in Newfoundland!
John Chisholm of the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries Division’s Shark Research Program and one of the researchers of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy believes that White sharks are more common in Atlantic Canada than we realize. Their tracking data would certainly suggest this, but White sharks are just so infrequently sighted, and when they are, mainly go unreported. Sightings of White sharks provides us with a better understanding of where they are found off our coast and what time of year they visit the Great White North. Researchers from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy are very interested in any sightings of White sharks in Canadian waters, especially if it’s a tagged shark (see photo above). NOTE: the tags they attach are not always red–last year, they were white. We are working with them to help collect White shark sightings in Atlantic Canada. If you have seen a White shark, please submit your sightings to the Shark Identification Network!