August 07, 2016 - 11:30 AM
LUNENBURG, N.S. - A shark estimated to be more than two metres in size has been spotted off Nova Scotia's South Shore, the latest in a series of sightings in Maritime waters.
Bill Flower, or "Cap't Bill" as he's known at Lunenburg Ocean Adventures, says he was taking a stag party on a tour near Cross Island on Saturday when the group saw either a mako or a great white shark jump straight out of the water three or four times.
Flower says he's been seeing more sharp-toothed predators on his near-daily shark charters, a slight increase he attributes to warming waters related to climate change.
"Everything is environmentally changing," Flower said Sunday. "I'm seeing more (sharks). Not a lot, but ... I've never seen a mako breach unless it's on a hook before, and I saw one yesterday on a rough day and that was very unusual."
Other sightings in Atlantic Canada this summer include a great white that was caught on camera cruising in the Bay of Fundy near St. Andrews, N.B. last week, and a shark that caused a stir in Liverpool, N.S., in July after gobbling mackerel straight off fishers' hooks.
In New Melbourne, N.L., last month, a cod fisher hooked more than what he bargained for when he found the maw of a two-metre porbeagle shark at the other end of his handline.
"We never really had time to be scared," Jim Mansfield told The Canadian Press after his encounter. "I've often wondered what it would be like to catch one, you know? I've heard tell of people often seeing them out there."
Last Sunday, a group of 22-year-olds filmed a shark hunting a pod of harbour porpoises in St. Margarets Bay near Hackett's Cove, N.S., while whale watching on a small inflatable boat.
Warren Joyce, a researcher with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Halifax, said it looks like the porpoises might have been "a little shaken" from the encounter, but he suspects they escaped unscathed.
Joyce said the DFO is notified of shark sightings approximately 12 to 20 times every summer and there has not been a significant hike this year.
The researcher reckons about half of these reports may be false alarms inspired by the cultural fascination with the dead-eyed, primeval fish.
"The water is still a fairly foreign environment to us," Joyce said in an interview this week. "It's either a big fear to encounter sharks or a big excitement for folks. People that I've talked to, they seem interested whether they're scared to death of them or they find them really interesting animals."
In the United States, shark sightings have prompted authorities to close several beaches on the East Coast, including popular destinations in New England, New York and elsewhere.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016