Jane the great white shark pings in Halifax Harbour, then off Liverpool
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2019 3:17PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 23, 2019 11:20PM ADT
A great white shark being tracked by an ocean resarch group has pinged in Halifax Harbour.
The shark, which is named Jane, was tracked at 4:47 a.m. in McNab's Cove on the north side of the lighthouse located at the tip of Meaghers Beach on McNab's Island.
By 9:59 p.m. Tuesday, though, Jane had pinged off the South Shore near Liverpool.
The great white arrived in Nova Scotia's waters near Cape Sable Island on Saturday and was detected near Lockeport on Monday morning.
"This is about the time of the year that you'd expect it," says Heather Bowlby, a shark researcher at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.
Jane is one of four sharks tagged by Ocearch last Thanksgiving Day off West Ironbound Island which is just south of Lunenburg, N.S.
The research group says it's the first female great white to be spot-tagged in Canadian waters.
Bowlby has no affiliation with Ocearch, but studying sharks is her life's work.
Publicly they're known as great whites, but scientists simply call them white sharks.
"Size at birth is between one and 1.6 metres," Bowlby says. "So, if you saw a two-metre animal, that would be a very young one, and they can get upwards of five-to-six-metres."
Jane, the shark that pinged near McNab's Island, is three metres (10 feet) long and weighs about 236 kilograms (521 pounds), which means she's rather young.
And she's on the move.
"White sharks tend to be fairly dispersed," Bowlby said.
Bowlby also says sharks often come and go unnoticed in our waters.
But when word spread Monday that Jane had arrived, there was some alarm.
"It's shallow enough I don't a shark could get in, but I wouldn't want to go swimming," said Jordan Miles, who was at Black Rock Beach at Point Pleasant Park.
Dan Tonet wasn't shocked.
"We do a lot of kayaking in the NW arm," Tonet said. "I've seen seals in there and a small whale at times."
Tonet wasn't afraid either. He knows he's unlikely to bump into a white shark.
Bowlby expects the arrival of this shark to help her and other researchers learn more about the species.
"With animals being tagged, we have more opportunity to observe them, which would mean we have more information about when they are there," Bowlby said.
Bowlby also says since sharks are a top predator in the ocean an increase in their population suggests that the overall health of the ecosystem is allowing that to happen.
Ocearch collects data to help scientists understand and help protect the ocean and the life within it.
The organization has applied for a permit to conduct a return visit off Cape Breton from Sept. 13 to Oct. 4.
Last fall, teams from the Ocearch research vessel MV Ocearch caught and tagged satellite transmitters of seven great whites off Lunenburg and Halifax.
The animals are given Twitter names such as "Hal" and thousands of people follow them on the organization's online global shark tracker, effectively becoming cheerleaders for great whites' apparent comeback.
Bob Hueter, Ocearch's chief science adviser and a shark biologist at Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory, says his group's research is showing the wide range of the great white sharks from southern Florida to the Cabot Strait.
"A good proportion we've tagged since 2012 have gone to Atlantic Canada waters and have spent time in Nova Scotia," he said in a telephone interview.
He says his group's goal is to have fully tagged 60 sharks of various sizes and ages from Florida to Nova Scotia and to track their movements and habitats.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Paul Hollingsworth and The Canadian Press.