Great white shark tagged in Atlantic Canadian waters for first time

The tag information will assist in understanding great white shark movements off Canada, and help inform protection measures for the endangered species.

Researcher says tag information will assist in understanding great white shark movements off Canada

A great white shark was tagged in the waters off southwest Nova Scotia last week. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

Scientists have successfully tagged a great white shark in Atlantic Canadian waters for the first time.

Heather Bowlby, a researcher with Halifax's Bedford Institute of Oceanography, says the three-metre juvenile male shark was tagged off southwest Nova Scotia last week.

"This animal, based on its size, would be about 20 years old and it is possible — with the amount of bait that was stolen — that there had been two of them around the boat but we were not able to confirm that," Bowlby said.

She said the tag information will assist in understanding great white shark movements off Canada, and help inform protection measures for the endangered species.

Data collected from the tag will not be known for nine months — it will pop off and float to the surface at that time and transmit the information to a satellite.

"When the tag does pop off, we'll be able to analyze its depth and temperature ... to look at both where it was in Canada as well as how it was behaving," Bowlby said.

Bowlby, along with Art Gaetan and Nathan Glenn of Blue Shark Charters, tagged the shark in the water alongside an 11-metre boat, using a slick of ground-up fish and tuna heads to attract the predatory fish.

Gaetan said the team had a five-day window to tag the shark. He said on Day 3, Glenn went to check a bucket on the side of the boat and the shark was there staring at him.

"So it was quite a little fright that he had," Gaetan said.

The reason why the Bedford Institute of Oceanography is tagging great white sharks is because a recovery plan is needed.

"This research directly supports recovery goals that have been identified for the species," said Bowlby.

The news comes as Ocearch, an American group, is in Nova Scotia to begin shark research, hoping to tag some mature females and track them to a birthing site.

Ocearch is best known in Nova Scotia for tagging Hilton, a celebrity great white shark who regularly reveals his location in a Twitter feed that has almost 45,000 followers.

Hilton was off Cape Breton on Saturday.

Read more articles from CBC Nova Scotia

with files from CBC