Canada’s The Chronicle Herald is reporting that a “scary big” great white shark was spotted by a boat of whale watchers last Wednesday (August 17, 2011) in Fundy Bay off of Brier Island, Nova Scotia. According to the report, Fulton Lavender, a Nova Scotia Bird Society naturalist claims that the shark was over 25′ in his personal opinion.
Initially, Fulton thought the shark to be a basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), which can normally reach lengths of over 25′. However, after seeing photographs of the shark taken by a tourist aboard the whale-watching boat, Fulton said it was “definitely a great white shark.” Others aboard the boat reported that the shark had a white underside. While basking sharks do not characteristically have a white underside, white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) do. Fulton also added that the photographs taken showed facial patterns and a dorsal fin more characteristic of a white shark.
The photographer who took the photos of the animal promised to provide Brier Island officials with a copy of a photograph of the animal but has yet to do so.
Adult white sharks are typically in the range of 13′-17′ in length, but reports of specimens reaching 20′, though somewhat rare, are not unheard of. A white shark exceeding 25′ in length would be extremely outside of the normal size range of the species.
Reid Gillis, a skipper for one of the whale watching boat says he saw the animal breach three times, but he could not identify the species as a white shark. The shark was also blamed by some of the whale watchers for a attacking a local humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) who was seen with “crescent-shaped” wounds. Gillis who saw the wounds on the whale noted that he did not see the shark attack the humpback and could not determine whether the wounds were the result of bite marks.
Canadian shark researcher, Steven Campana, told The Chronicle Herald that it would be highly unusual for a white shark to attack a healthy adult whale.
Earlier this month a small white shark was captured inadvertently in a fisherman’s weir in the Bay of Fundy, putting an end to speculation that the species were currently present in the region.