Nova Scotia

Liverpool shark stealing mackerel off fishing lines causes a stir

People in a small Nova Scotia community are being told to look before they leap into a harbour that's being visited by a peckish shark.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada official says based on reports, he believes it may be a porbeagle shark

Andy Bezanson fishes in Liverpool harbour whenever the mackerel are in season. (CBC)

​A peckish shark has been spotted snatching mackerel off people's hooks on the Liverpool, N.S., waterfront.

Witnesses say the roughly 1.5-metre shark swam under a popular harbour bridge and into the estuary, grabbing mackerel right off their lines, along with their bait.

Lyndon Mooers was fishing Tuesday night when he says he watched the shark grab the mackerel off three or four people's lines.

"Sometimes, he'd take their line and go with your mackerel jig, and take the line and go right off," Mooers told New Glasgow News.

Signs taken down

The shark sighting caused a stir in Liverpool, with local officials putting up warnings on the dock where people fish and swim, which some mistook for a Department of Fisheries and Oceans advisory.

"The DFO has had reports of people seeing sharks in Liverpool Harbour," said David Jennings, communications manager for the department. "The DFO has not done any posting of signs.

"That was an independent action taken by an individual, as DFO does not have a role in this particular case."

A local official confirmed the Region of Queens Municipality posted the signs, but has since taken them down because there have been no further sightings.

'It isn't that uncommon'

Andy Bezanson fishes whenever mackerel are in season. He wasn't at the dock on Tuesday night, but said there are varying opinions about whether the culprit was a shark or a seal.

"There are sharks in the water and I heard one of the old fishermen just the other day comment that it isn't that uncommon," Bezanson said Friday.

"He said there's a lot more sharks in the water than people think."

Warren Joyce, a DFO fisheries technician, said in an interview Friday that while he has not seen the shark, based on reports, he believes it to be a porbeagle shark.

Attacks relatively rare, says expert

Joyce said the sharks are common to the region, and occasionally go into bays and harbours following schools of mackerel, but it is unusual to see the sharp-toothed predators so close to the shore.

His best guess as to why the shark swam so far into the bay: it was just following the food.

Joyce recommended people exercise caution if they see the shark, but said attacks are relatively rare.

"If people do see it ... any videos or images would be great," Joyce said. "Enjoy the view, because it is a pretty rare experience to see a shark around Nova Scotia.

"The ocean is their home, so they're much better suited for that than we are."

With files from CBC News