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

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on July 28, 2014

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.

Fin Facts

— There are about 19 different species of shark swimming in Atlantic waters.

— The largest is the basking shark that can measure up to 10 metres.

— The spiny dog fish shark and the blue shark are the most common around here.

— In total, millions of sharks swim in Atlantic waters with most species keeping to the open ocean a good distance from shore.

— To learn more about sharks and the work done by the Canadian Shark Research Laboratory, visit www.bio.gc.ca/sharks.

Source: Canadian Shark Research Laboratory