Legendary shark: The tale of great white caught off P.E.I. shores resurfaces

Jim Day
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Warren Joyce has only seen a sliver of the mighty beast.

The fisheries technician with the Canadian Shark Research Laboratory would have relished seeing the entire great white shark after it was caught off P.E.I. more than 30 years ago.

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“It would have been a delight to see...just to see an animal that large,’’ says Joyce.

And what a whopper it was.

At 5.2 metres in length, the shark remains the largest ever great white “accurately measured’’ in the world, notes Joyce.

The shark research lab in Bedford, N.S. has held on to a small section of the shark’s vertebrae measuring just inches in diameter. With advanced technology, that little piece of the shark was recently used to estimate the large female to be 19 years old when it fatefully became entangled in the net of Alberton fisherman David McKendrick in 1983.

The shark may be long dead, but it certainly lingers in legend and even in body parts.

In addition to the small piece of vertebrae kept at the Canadian Shark Research Laboratory, the shark’s jaws are on display in a Florida museum.

“It would be quite spectacular to see the teeth of an animal that size,’’ muses Joyce.

As for the legend of this particular great white, the Discovery Channel has helped resurface the true tale by naming it one of the world’s top five legendary sharks as the specialty channel heads into its popular Shark Week, which starts Sunday, Aug. 10.

“It is quite a piece of history and something that P.E.I. should be proud of,’’ says Joyce.

He says there are very few sightings of great white sharks around the Maritimes, adding thtat there have only been 34 recorded incidents of great whites in “our waters’’ here over the last 130 years.

So passengers and crew aboard a whale watching boat were given a rare thrill off shore from St. Andrewsn New Brunswick last week. The Quoddy Link Marine boat had sailed out of St. Andrews Monday with about 20 passengers aboard and documented the sighting of a great white with both photos and videos.

Dr. Steve Turnbull of the University of New Brunswick has viewed the photos and confirmed it was a great white shark.

St. Andrews is about 100 km northwest of Digby across the Bay of Fundy.

Organizations: Canadian Shark Research Laboratory, Florida museum, Discovery Channel University of New Brunswick

Geographic location: P.E.I., Bedford, Andrewsn New Brunswick Digby Bay of Fundy Atlantic

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Recent comments

  • 80sOGRE
    July 29, 2014 - 21:19

    it may well be the largest accurately measured but going by images of the other largest caught specimens, it's clearly not the largest. ( that honor is a toss up between the Cuban and vic hislops 1987 5000lbs beast IMO )

  • Jessica Ward
    July 29, 2014 - 19:32

    What kind of article uses "P.E.I." over and over again without defining the acronym once?? Your reader, who is not familar with the region, should not have to look it up.

    • Mike
      August 27, 2014 - 23:35

      You as the reader should educate yourself. I bet you do not get upset when one uses the accronym " UK". Complaining about having to type 3 letters on Google....really?

  • Covehead fisher
    July 29, 2014 - 15:27

    The shark at Covehead was an18 ft female caught in 1979 by. Ray Campbell and his father (Louis ) . It was caught up in a cod net approx 4 miles off Covehead . Not far from the shark was a big salmon. Poss why the shark went into net. It makes sence why sharks are up here. Warm waters fm south. Coming up the Gulf Stream. And then meeting up with the warm waters of the gulf and Northumberland strait.

  • Wishs come true sometimes
    July 29, 2014 - 11:24

    Warren Joyce may get his wish depending on how many nets are set on Fishermans Bank this year . I saw a 2.5 foot dorsal fin of a great white in 40 feet of water off Boughton Island . The amount of seals on the Bank will be a natural draw for this monster , if it gets tangled it will be in pictures .

  • The mad kayaker
    July 29, 2014 - 05:11

    A few years ago I was in my sea kayak less than a mile off the Cavendish main beach when I senced something behind me . When I looked back expecting to see the usual seal poking its head up in interest nothing was there . So I continued on and a few minutes later I stopped for a rest and a huge shark 13 to 15 feet went directly under my hull at about a 30 degree angle from behind at the most 6 ft below me then as it was just out of sight it turned and started to circle behind me and I could see that classic shape and gills with a square patch of white around them but that black lifeless Eye was the thing that set my paddle in motion. Its dorsel just breaking the surface was the last thing that I remember as I headed for shallow water at record speed . It will take your breath away when you are in a kayak that is only 23 inches wide and you are almost eye level with one of these . That was the second shark that I witnessed off the north shore of PEI .

  • SunnyRoadz
    July 28, 2014 - 18:13

    I grew up in Covehead in the summers when I was a kid and i'm sure late seventies/early eighties there was a large shark caught there as well, I remember going down to the wharf with my folks and seeing this huge great white hanging on a rack at the wharf.. Someone else must remember this fish, it was huge news around the area at the time

    • Tony
      July 28, 2014 - 23:21

      I was lifeguarding in PEI National Park the summer that the Covehead Great White was landed by a boat from there. By the time I, and a few of the other guards got there after work, the jaws were almost cut-out (I later heard that they had been set to Dal but also that they were sold and that the rest was towed back out to sea). A small crowd was present and watching, so someone else must remember this. The fish was reported to have measured 17 1/2 feet and had been caught not far from shore between Brackley Beach and Stanhope Beach in a net by accident and had drowned due to restricted movement.

  • enough already
    July 28, 2014 - 17:07

    Was there a large shark landed in Covehead in the seventies

  • Big Joe
    July 28, 2014 - 14:44

    Not absolutely certain about the weight of this shark, but great white sharks similar in length (17 feet) caught (and there have only been a few) in Australia and other parts of the world, weighed anywhere from 3,400-3,600 pounds. It definitely wouldn't take long to make a meal out of someone...

  • Paul
    July 28, 2014 - 13:10

    It was landed in Alberton (stated in the story). I happened to be in Alberton and saw it that day. Only later on found out it was a record shark.

  • same story
    July 28, 2014 - 09:17

    Where was this shark landed?

  • enough already
    July 28, 2014 - 09:05

    At what harbour was this shark landed? I thought Covehead but am I wrong?

  • Serious Reader
    July 28, 2014 - 07:59

    Wondering what it weighed?