Celebrity shark appears to be ending his stay in N.S. waters
HALIFAX — A 600-kilogram great white shark who enthralled Nova Scotians for months as he cruised East Coast waters appears to be ending his northern sojourn and heading south.
A group tracking the 3.7-metre shark named Hilton said Monday that he was heading out of Mahone Bay, posing the question on Twitter: “Where do you think he’s going now?”
The celebrity shark — tagged by the research group Ocearch in March in South Carolina — first appeared on Nova Scotia’s south shore in early August.
He charmed locals with a wry Twitter feed that chronicled his movements near some of the province’s most popular beaches and tourist towns, including the site of the famous Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.
On Monday, Hilton offered up a cheeky Tweet to residents of a coastal Nova Scotia community, saying “What’s up East Berlin? Don’t mind me, just passing by!”
It didn’t take long for followers to offer up their well wishes online.
“...take your time! What’s the rush??” one woman said.
One man in another coastal community bid adieu, for now.
“See you as you sail by Medway Harbour on your way back next summer, we’ll wave ... from the wharf ,” while another tweeted ,“Safe travels big boy. We hope you stick around! Dont Fear the Fin.”
Another shark dubbed Big Peg even tweeted out her amorous feelings for the massive predator with a simple XO, about her “unrequited, forever love.”
The highly visible great white — Hilton has 17,300 Twitter followers — was in the area to feast on an abundance of seals, but gave some anxious Nova Scotians the jitters and kept them out of the water.
His Twitter feed filled up with jokes, local food references and flirtations with other tagged sharks and even human Nova Scotians, even as he boasted about his attributes.
“Don’t forget handsome, suave, debonaire, and dashing,” Hilton tweeted back to someone who complimented his good looks.
Hilton has a tracker on his dorsal fin, which only sends signals when it breaks the surface.
Ocearch has tagged over 300 sharks, almost half of them great white sharks, including about 25 on the east coast of North America, and open-sourced the data on its website and free app.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy says little is known about where sharks travel, pup and feed, and the group aims to solve that puzzle of shark behaviour while also reducing the stigma around sharks. In late July, a 300kg great white shark affectionately known as Pumpkin was detected in Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin.
Last November, a 900-kilogram great white named Lydia — who also has her own Ocearch-managed Twitter account — was among two then tracking off Nova Scotia.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy says the animal is the largest predatory fish in the world, with a powerful jaw full of serrated teeth and a body that can weigh up to 1,800 kilograms. But it says the population in the North Atlantic has dropped by 75 per cent in the past 15 years and is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable.
A shark known as “Hilton” is seen in this undated handout photo.