Great white ‘Pump­kin’ spot­ted in Nova Sco­tia

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD -

CHEVERIE, N.S. — A 300-kilo­gram great white shark af­fec­tion­ately known as “Pump­kin” has been cruis­ing Nova Sco­tia’s Mi­nas Basin to feast on an abun­dance of seals, cap­ti­vat­ing lo­cals and pos­si­bly shed­ding light on the species’ lit­tle-known mi­gra­tory pat­terns.

Sci­en­tists say the 2.7-me­tre fe­male shark was de­tected off Cheverie by an acous­tic mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem that picked up a trans­mit­ter placed on it last year by re­searchers with the Mas­sachusetts Divi­sion of Ma­rine Fish­eries.

Fred Who­riskey, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Ocean Track­ing Network at Dal­housie Uni­ver­sity, said it’s not sur­pris­ing that Pump­kin ended up in the area, which is part of the species’ nat­u­ral range.

He said the hun­gry shark is likely chas­ing seals, but has shown up ear­lier than nor­mal.

“I’m a lit­tle sur­prised at how early it has ap­peared in the Mi­nas Basin,” he said.

“I’m en­cour­aged to know that our ecosys­tems are bounc­ing back and these crit­i­cal com­po­nents are back in place.”

He said they’ve had about six tagged great whites in the Bay of Fundy over the past few years.

Who­riskey said there was an ex­plo­sion in the seal pop­u­la­tion off Cape Cod, Mass., last year, lead­ing to a com­men­su­rate boost in the num­ber of sharks in the area. He says re­searchers iden­ti­fied about 100 new young great white sharks last year in that area.

He said peo­ple shouldn’t panic about be­ing in the water with Pump­kin, since he’s not aware of a sin­gle shark at­tack in Canada.

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