Nova Scotia

Halifax to display great white shark remains

The remains of a great white shark caught in the Bay of Fundy this week will go on display in Halifax's Museum of Natural History.

The remains of a great white shark caught in the Bay of Fundy this week will be displayed at Halifax's Museum of Natural History.

Curator John Gilhen said the shark's jawbone is being processed and will be put on public display this fall.

"We'll put it on display for a few months and then it will go into the collection of shark jaws and be made available to any scientists who want to examine it," he said Wednesday.

The shark was accidentally caught in a fishing weir near Economy, N.S., and was the first confirmed great white shark sighting in Atlantic Canada in more than six years.

Gilhen said the museum's goal is to make a collection of all plants and animals found in and around Nova Scotia.

Evidence of interactions between great white sharks and humans in Nova Scotia is limited. The only documented case happened off Victoria Beach in 1932, when a shark bit a wooden boat.

It left some teeth behind and was estimated to be eight metres long and two metres wide. It weighed about 1,300 kilograms.

'Baby' shark will help scientists

Steve Campana, head of the Canadian Shark Research Lab at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, said this week's shark was much smaller.

Scientists have only the shark's head and a few photographs to go by, but it's estimated the great white was about three metres long and weighed 272 kilograms.

"This was a baby. In great white standards, that's not even a teenager. You'd have to be about 17 feet [five metres] long before they're just becoming sexually mature," he said.

Nova Scotia scientists used to see one or two great whites a year, but the last one Campana could remember was a decade ago.

"This is big news. It's not scary news, it's interesting news. It's been many years since we've had a confirmed great white in Atlantic Canada," he said.

"They used to be here all the time, but their population numbers are down quite low world-wide right now, which means it's much rarer for them to stray into our waters."

Campana said the sample would be put to good use.

"We know we have millions of sharks out there. They're an important part of our eco system and the great white is the king of the food chain — it's the so-called apex predator," he said. "The more we can understand about that, the more we can make sure we maintain a healthy ecology."