New Brunswick

Giant shark draws big crowd to N.B. wharf

Cocagne fishing captain Gerald Martin was drifting for mackerel in the Bay de Chaleur on Sunday when he woke up to a nine metre shark tangled in three of his nets.
This basking shark, measuring more than nine metres, was caught in a fisherman's mackerel nets. (CBC)

Cocagne fishing captain Gerald Martin was drifting for mackerel in the Bay de Chaleur on Sunday when he discovered a nine-metre shark tangled in three of his nets.

"Yesterday morning, when we woke up, we had quite a surprise in our nets. About halfway through our nets we had this beast all tangled up," Martin told CBC News. 

The shark had drowned overnight, but due to the beast's size, Martin had to tow it back to shore to get it out of his nets. 

The huge shark is getting a lot of attention on the Shippagan wharf with crowds clamouring for a look.

"There's been traffic all day and all night last night," he said.
Captain Gerald Martin Martin said he's not sure what he's going to do with the shark but mounting it over the fireplace is not an option. (CBC)

Martin is estimating the fish weighs more than 2,300 kilograms, but it's hard to say since the beast is so large, they're having a hard time getting it out of the water.

"I have seen one. Another mackerel captain caught a basking shark... but it was close to this size, about two years ago," That shark wasn't tangled as bad and the fisherman was able to release the shark from the net.

Atlantic basking sharks are listed as a species of special concern according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

According to COSEWIC, a species listed as "special concern" has characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events.

Basking sharks are caught incidentally in trawl, longline, and gillnet fisheries in Atlantic Canada. Ship collisions are also a threat since basking sharks feed near the surface, 'basking' for plankton by opening their mouths and filtering out the small creatures.

This species can reach as long as 15 metres and is the second largest living fish, next to the whale shark. 

Population estimates in Canadian waters are rough and may number between 4,918 and 10,125 individuals.

Martin said he's not sure what he's going to do with the shark but mounting it over the fireplace is not an option.

"No," Martin laughed, "it would take a pretty big fireplace."

"I'm not a hundred per cent sure yet," Martin said. "I was going to dispose of it but I just got a call from a biologist that might be interested in it so I'm waiting on an answer for that."

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