Nova Scotia

Great white shark's visit near Halifax harbour causes a stir

A great white shark that swam by Halifax harbour Tuesday morning is likely long gone as she follows her next meal, according to the head of the Ocean Tracking Network.

'The ocean is Nova Scotia's playground, but for the sharks, it's home,' says Fred Whoriskey

Jane, a great white shark, is three metres long and weighs 236 kilograms. She was tagged by Ocearch in October 2018. (Robert Snow/Ocearch)

A great white shark that swam by Halifax harbour Tuesday morning is likely long gone as she follows her next meal, according to the head of the Ocean Tracking Network.

Great White Jane was tagged by another organization, Ocearch, last October. She caused a minor stir Tuesday morning on social media when her tracker signalled she was hanging out at McNabs Island, at the mouth of the harbour.

"If you look at that course track, the animal is moving pretty fast, so probably nowhere near McNabs right now," said Fred Whoriskey, executive director of the Ocean Tracking Network, which is run out to Dalhousie University.

"It's a sub–adult. It's a juvenile female and it's probably chasing fish at this particular point in time. So we'll let her go about chasing her fish and you can go about doing what you want to do with the ocean."

Jane's journey, which can be tracked on the Ocearch website, shows she arrived in Nova Scotia Sunday, with stops near Cape Sable Island and North East Harbour as she made her way along the coast.

This is where Jane the white shark 'pinged' in Halifax harbour

CBC News Nova Scotia

2 years ago
0:24
According to Ocearch.org, Jane the white shark pinged near McNabs Island just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday. 0:24

Whoriskey said despite everyone's initial reaction to avoid the water, there hasn't been an unprovoked great white shark attack in Nova Scotia since the 1800s.

"I'm not scared to go in the ocean. These animals have always been there," he said. 

"In the case of the large sharks, they might be around seals, and in the case of the smaller ones, around schools of bait fish. These are not the places where people are going for beaches and things like that."

Hal, a four-metre great white shark seen here off the coast of Nova Scotia last September, has also been tracked in the province this week. (R. Snow/Ocearch/The Canadian Press)

Great White Jane isn't the only one to visit Nova Scotia this week.

Tagged sharks named Cabot, Luna and Hal have also been hanging out along the southwest coastline.

Their presence is exciting the team at Osearch, as it's the first summer they've been able to track the animals, and they're keeping a close eye on Luna and Hal in particular.

Both are mature adults, and they're inching closer together, according to the trackers. 

"One of our big questions is are these big white sharks mating in Canada?" said Chris Fischer, the founder and expedition leader. 

"You don't see too many big mature animals — males an females — that close together unless you were in a place like Massachusetts."

Both Whoriskey and Fischer agree that for the sharks, these journeys are likely business as usual. 

"What you're seeing now up in Canada is the latest technology with the latest methods telling a story that's been going on for millions of years, and it's the first time we're all able to see that story revealed together," Fischer said.

He said Ocearch has applied for another permit to visit the Nova Scotia coastline again in September and October to tag more great whites.

Whoriskey said we may be watching four tags now, but there are likely many more sharks nearby. 

"The ocean is Nova Scotia's playground, but for the sharks it's home. We've always coexisted and there is a place for both of us here."

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