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White shark found dead in shallow water outside Halifax

Three recreational divers found the remains of a white shark below 10 meters of water on Sunday in Terence Bay, near Halifax.

Alanna Canaran, Sara Vanderkaden, and Douglas Morum stumbled upon the shark after going for dive at one of the Terence Bay wharfs.

“I didn’t know what it was. I kind of started getting the feeling it was probably a shark, because you really just see its whole white body glowing in the green water,” said Canaran.

As they approached the shark, lobsters and other critters bit away at the carcass.

“On the one hand, it was really cool and fascinating to see an animal this large up-close, on the other hand, it’s obviously very tragic to know that these are endangered animals and it was in fact deceased," said Vanderkaden.

The divers reached out to the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) who were able to go down to the area two days after it was first reported.

MARS’ executive director, Tonya Wimmer, said the organization did not have the means to bring the shark up to shore because of its weight and the state of deterioration.

Instead, they collected samples and the head to study.

A Marine Animal Response Society-led team examined and collected samples from a dead white shark found in Terence Bay, N.S. (Source: Facebook/Marine Animal Response Society)

“It’s not something we’ve dealt with before, and that is one of the big questions, which is what happened to the shark? Are the causes something natural or is this something human-caused? Which unfortunately we see a lot.”

Marine experts said the samples will help with possibly determining the cause of death, which could vary from natural causes, disease, climate change, etc.

“It could be trauma, as some point it was banged by a boat. It could’ve been an animal inadvertently captured and poached,” explained Frederick Whoriskey, executive director of Ocean Tracking Network.

The white shark is the sixth to be found dead in the region this year. The other five washed up onshore.

Wimmer said this has never happened before.

Sampling done by the Marine Animal Response Society on a dead white shark in Terence Bay, N.S. (Source: Facebook/Nicolas Winkler Photography)

“It’s not uncommon for animals to be found dead onshore or floating on the waters, but we’ve had quite a number of white sharks that have died, which doesn’t happen.”

The shark was a male juvenile two meters in length. Whoriskey said the population of white sharks in the Atlantic region has grown in recent years.

“We are seeing a large number of juvenile sharks and also adults. The number of sightings has been really rapidly increasing on a per-year basis, so they do appear to be back and stay.”

It is a fact divers will now be aware of the next time they are underwater.

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