What lies beneath: Great white sharks spotted off Nova Scotia's coast
HALIFAX -- In Atlantic Canada, people are noticing a new wave of visitors -- though not the usual two-legged variety.
Sightings of great white sharks and other large sharks appear to be on the rise, with videos of these top predators popping up all along the U.S. eastern seaboard up into the Maritimes.
Brian Rissesco and his family have spent many summer days at Rissers Beach along Nova Scotia’s South Shore.
But what happened during a fishing trip on Saturday still has him shaken up.
“I was trolling for mackerel, and was excited to see that I had caught three. I was getting ready to bring them up into the kayak when a shark surfaced to the left of me, followed by a second shark,” recalls Rissesco. “They went around my kayak, took the mackerel off my line, broke my fishing rod and I headed into the shore as quick as possible.”
On Saturday, two great white sharks were pinged in the same area Rissesco was fishing, inside the bay off of Rissers beach.
The sharks, named Hal and Ironbound, had been tagged by the Ocearch research team during expeditions to Nova Scotia in 2018 and 2019.
The organization is tracking sharks to learn about their feeding and mating habits in Atlantic Canada.
The group’s founder says incidents like Saturday’s are common when a large amount of sea life is gathered in one area.
“Physically what we see when something like that occurs is that there’s some sort of event occurring,” explains Chris Fischer, founder of Ocearch.
"We know there’s a lot of fields in that area and we’ve heard some reports that there’s a tremendous amount of mackerel in the area, which makes a lot of sense. So we see those kind of events when there is a lot of life, a lot of biomass, something that the white sharks are going to come in and balance out, and make sure the system is healthy and abundant.”
Ocearch is currently on expedition off the coast of Massachusetts, but next month they’ll continue to sail up north towards Nova Scotia, as they continue to study great white sharks in our waters.
Fischer says sharks have been annual visitors to north Atlantic waters for many years, but thanks to technology, we’re now able to track them.
He advises anyone who goes out on the water and notices a large amount of sea life, such as seals, bait and birds, to find a different beach or area to swim in, until the sea life moves on.
“It was absolutely amazing, but I booted her right to shore as fast as I could go, and my family knew something was wrong,” says Risseco.
It's an experience that still gives him goosebumps, as he and his family keep a close eye on the water and what lurks beneath.