There have been several reports of great white sharks washing up on shore in the Maritimes region of Canada. Although it’s not unusual to see sharks in Canadian waters this time of year, it is very rare for them to come ashore. The most recent shark incident like this happened on October 26, Newsweek reports. A juvenile was found beached at the bottom of a cliff in north Sydney, Nova Scotia.
While marine mammal strandings are a fairly common phenomenon, it is not as common for sharks to wash up on shore. Local residents quickly alerted the Marine Animal Response Society which arrived on the scene soon after. As the weather cools down in winter, great white sharks migrate from the Atlantic Ocean’s northern regions to escape the colder temperatures. Ocearch is an organization that tracks these marine creatures. They say that there are still a good number of them remaining in the north despite their journey south.
A few times every year, this happens according to Warren Joyce. He’s an aquatic fisheries technician that was present at the scene. However, it is usually sharks like porbeagles or blue sharks instead. “For a white shark, this is very uncommon,” explained Joyce. The shark’s body was retrieved by the department and taken to Halifax for a necropsy. In addition, scientists will analyze samples from the creature to determine its cause of death.
The great white shark carcass was a unique opportunity for scientists to learn from
Marine biologist Vanessa Pirotta discussed the issue with Newsweek. “[I’m] glad a necropsy was done. That ruled out fishing gear entanglement and vessel strike. It could be other causes such as swimming [or] hunting too close to the shore or something else that could be discovered from the necropsy such as an internal health problem,” Pirotta explained. “The reality is, marine wildlife deaths do occur from time to time and probably don’t wash up. This means, we just don’t see it when it happens like when a whale passes, it’s only when their dead body strands and [becomes] visible, [that] we might start asking questions. Nevertheless, such a unique opportunity to collect samples for science and learn more about these fascinating species.”
A near identical event happened last week, as the Marine Animal Response Society stated on Facebook. They received a call to remove a full-grown male white shark that had beached itself in New Brunswick.
“Although a common shark species in our waters, it is incredibly rare to receive reports of them washing ashore, making this an important opportunity to collect samples and learn more about this endangered species,” the society captioned the post. Although a necropsy was conducted, the results were inconclusive and the cause of death for the shark remains unknown.