Toothy tourist: ‘Hilton’ the great white shark tracked in Mahone Bay
A great white shark named Hilton has been tweeting his way up Nova Scotia’s south shore since the end of July, with help from a tracking device.
Hilton has been cruising the Nova Scotia waters and transmitting locations for days. The mature male was tagged by OCEARCH's Global Shark Tracker back in March.
“Based on our work around the other parts of the world, he should be getting ready to mate,” says Chris Fischer of OCEARCH.
Hilton's most recent port of call was Mahone Bay, N.S., on Aug. 6. Quaint village shop and restaurant owners are used to playing host to tourists, but they say Hilton is making them feel uneasy.
“I was terrified,” says business owner Rebecca South. “We go swimming there all the time.”
“I've got some friends of mine that have shared their posts. It's just warning people where the shark has been sighted and just to avoid certain beaches,” says local resident Mary Jane Goodfellow. “We are in their habitat so we have to be respectful and coexist.”
Capt. Bill Flower runs a shark fishing charter out of Lunenburg and hooked one. He’s hoping for another close encounter with a great white.
“It's not a new thing. We're just more aware of them,” says Flower. “It's an incredible rush, believe or not. I'm a pretty steady guy but I was still shaking when I got to the wharf, the adrenaline rush, that was pretty intense.”
OCEARCH researchers hope by tracking Hilton, it will reveal why the great white shark is in the Maritimes. Flower believes they're here to stay.
“Sable Island has become a breeding ground for seals, there's literally probably millions of them out there," he says. "Over the years we've seen such an abundance of seals in the area and their natural predator of course is the great white, so with food and the abundance of bait for them to survive on, why would they leave?”
Fischer says protecting the great whites and learning about them stretches from the Bahamas to the Canadian coast and everywhere in between.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Marie Adsett.