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Possible shark sighting temporarily closes popular Maritime beach


A suspected shark sighting caused a popular Nova Scotia beach to close temporarily Thursday.

The Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service said the sighting happened around 10:30 a.m. at Rissers Beach along the South Shore. The water was cleared for a couple hours while lifeguards watched for anymore sightings.

People were able to resume swimming around 1 p.m.

While it's unclear what type of shark may have been spotted, white sharks have been seen in the area in the past.

"I don't think people should be concerned that there's a shark in the water," said Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, the executive director of the Shark Research Foundation and president of Atlantic Shark Expeditions.

He said certain species, like white sharks, stay close to the shore, while others are more open-ocean species, which tend to stay in deeper waters.

"The data that we're getting from a lot of the sharks, at least the white sharks here, which are really the only one that can pose a danger to humans, is that they're moving through."

He said it’s not surprising that white sharks could be seen in the South Shore, because a lot of them are moving up here at this time of year.

"They don't tend to stay in one area for a long period of time unless there's a food source there. So, if there's seals around or other food sources, then it probably wouldn't be a good swimming spot. Otherwise, the shark is probably just passing through, cruising through," said Hammerschlag.

He said there's no reason to be afraid of sharks at Rissers Beach.

"I don't think people should be fearful, they should be smart, and getting out of the water is a prudent thing to do for sure. Just wait for it to pass and then get back in the water."

Hammerschlag said between August and October of last year, 36 different white sharks were identified during expeditions off the South Shore.

"They are in these waters," said Hammerschlag.

"People probably got to see a very cool encounter."

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