July 31, 2019 5:49 pm
Updated: August 1, 2019 4:31 am

Story of shark encounter along Nova Scotia’s south shore sparks concern among surfers

WATCH: The alleged encounter happened near White Point beach on Nova Scotia’s south shore. Though shark encounters aren’t uncommon, as Alexa MacLean explains, the changing climate may impact the number of sightings.

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Discussions about big waves and weather are pretty commonplace in surf shops.

But a recent story from a customer caught even Adam Fraser, a well-experienced surfer and employee at Halifax’s Pro Skateboards, Snowboards & Surfboards, by surprise.

“[The customer] was out surfing on a couple longboards … with his buddy, and they were out and they looked out on the horizon and saw a dorsal fin that was about a metre high, he said,” Fraser said.

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According to Fraser, the customer explained that he and a friend were surfing off of White Point on Nova Scotia’s south shore when the encounter is said to have happened.

READ MORE: Jane’s fond’a Halifax: 521-pound great white shark pinged near McNabs Island

“Apparently this shark, we think, not necessarily chased them but kind of tracked them a little bit,” Fraser said.

“[It] cut them off on the way into shore, so they actually had to turn the other way and had to head for another shoreline and subsequently walked about three kilometres back to their cars.”

While it’s impossible to know whether the incident did involve a shark, one marine scientist and shark researcher isn’t shocked.

Heather Bowlby says it’s unsurprising to hear of people coming across sharks in the waters of the North Atlantic.

“People are very surprised to know that we have multiple species. So, everything from blue shark and some pelagic species like porbeagle, shortfin mako, there’s white shark out there, dogfish, even to the great big basking shark,” said Bowlby, of the Canadian Atlantic Shark Research Laboratory.

Heather Bowlby studies sharks for a living and says many people are ‘surprised’ to hear several different species of sharks live in Atlantic ocean waters.

Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Within the past few weeks, three white sharks have been sighted along Nova Scotia’s south shore through OCEARCH tagging data. 

Hal, an adult male weighing 1,420 pounds, was last pinged on July 30th around Barrington Passage.

The sightings aren’t surprising to researchers like Bowlby, who say the changing climate is impacting the distribution of marine life — including sharks.

WATCH: Young Alberta shark enthusiast hits the water with renowned marine biologist

“As ocean conditions change, there might be a change in the amount of time they spend up here, or the specific locations they follow with water temperature,” she said.

“Although white shark in general, as a species, they can go pretty much wherever they want.”

READ MORE: 11-year-old aspiring marine biologist experiences shark tagging on Atlantic Ocean

As for the surf community responding to the alleged incident, Fraser says safety and respect are always top of mind.

“You know the sharks, it’s their home, not ours,” he said.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Bowlby.

“In general, most of the species we have are quite small and would never pose any threat to people,” Bowlby said.

“They are beautiful, powerful animals and yes, we should respect them as an aquatic predator but I wouldn’t be overly frightened of them.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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