Shark researchers to increase sample size of tagged great white sharks in Nova Scotia

The team successfully tagged its first white shark on Sept. 13. OCEARCH

Hundreds of white sharks are gathering right now off the Nova Scotia coast, according to OCEARCH, a data-centric organization that helps scientists collect data in the ocean.

Now a group of shark researchers have kick-started OCEARCH’s Expedition Nova Scotia 2020 with the aim of increasing the sample size of tagged white sharks and to study the sharks in more depth.

Expedition Nova Scotia 2020 started in Main-a-dieu on Sept. 8 and will move down the coast before ending near Lunenburg on Oct. 6.

Along the way, the organization said the team will stop at locations where many sharks were tagged in the past, such as Scaterie Island and West Ironbound Island, but will also be looking for new locations to find reliable access to the sharks.

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“Expedition Nova Scotia 2020 will build on the work from two prior successful expeditions that tagged and sampled 17 white sharks off the province’s coast,” the organization said in a news release.

According to OCEARCH, the two previous expeditions helped to “expose the prevalence of white sharks in the Canadian Maritimes and also provided researchers with clues to help them start discovering how the sharks are utilizing the Canadian coast.”

Click to play video: 'Family films shark swimming next to their boat in Wedgeport, N.S.'
Family films shark swimming next to their boat in Wedgeport, N.S.

Data from the OCEARCH tracker shows that many of the sharks tagged on past expeditions to the area have already returned to Nova Scotia this year.

“We are asked all the time why white sharks seem to suddenly be appearing here off the Nova Scotia coast,” said OCEARCH expedition leader and founding chairman Chris Fischer.

“The reality is that we suspect they’ve been here for quite some time, we just know about them now. Our expeditions in 2018 and 2019 really helped expose Nova Scotia as a white shark hotspot in the Northwest Atlantic.”

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Fischer said that on this expedition researchers will try to understand how healthy the shark population is and figure out why Nova Scotia is a hotspot for white sharks.

According to OCEARCH, sharks are the “balance keepers of the ocean” and their presence off Canada is a sign of healthy oceans.

“The advanced data gathered during the trip will be made available to the Canadian government in order to help influence public safety and conservation policies in the country,” the organization said.

OCEARCH said it spent the last several months working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to secure the proper permits for the expedition and DFO officials will monitor the expedition closely to ensure all components of the permits are followed.

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