Great White Shark Tagged for the First Time in Canadian Atlantic Waters

Heather Bowlby at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax tagged the shark with a location tracker that will monitor its movements for nearly a year.

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Sep 18 2018, 4:49pm

Image: Hermanus Backpackers

A great white shark has been successfully tagged off the coast of Nova Scotia, marking the first time the species has been intercepted and tracked in Canadian Atlantic waters.

Heather Bowlby, a conservation biologist based at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, Nova Scotia, fitted the shark with a location tracker that will monitor its movements for the next nine months before disengaging.

While great white sharks have been occasionally spotted in Canadian waters before, Bowlby’s successful tagging of the shark represents a new push to understand these animals’ movements north of the border. Great white sightings are relatively rare off Canada’s Pacific and Atlantic coasts, but may become more frequent as climate change warms the oceans.

In addition to the Bedford Institute’s efforts to track sharks in this region, the American research nonprofit Ocearch has sent teams to Nova Scotia in order to seek out female sharks to tag, in hopes that they can track down their birthing grounds. Ocearch has tagged many sharks off the US coast, and updates their movements on a public map.

The most famous is Hilton, named for Hilton Head, South Carolina (where he was tagged last year by Ocearch), a 12.5-foot-long shark that has attracted a large following on Twitter.

No word yet about whether the newly tagged shark will get a cute nickname or a social media account, though Bowlby is planning to announce more details about the animal on Tuesday in the Nova Scotian town of Eastern Passage. Regardless of any future online fandom, the milestone should produce new insights into the migration, population, and distribution of these charismatic predators.

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