Celebrity shark ap­pears to be end­ing his stay in N.S. wa­ters

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - NATIONAL NEWS - ALI­SON AULD

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.

ROBERT SNOW/OCEANCH

A shark known as “Hil­ton” is seen in this un­dated handout photo.

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