The shark caught off western P.E.I. by Alberton fisherman David McKendrick in 1983, was 5.2 metres long. It got caught in McKendrick’s net, and was dead when he pulled it to the surface. Warren Joyce of the Canadian Shark Research Laboratory in Bedford, N.S. said the shark is in the top two largest ever measured in the world.
Given the very few sightings of great white sharks around the Maritimes, Joyce said that such a large one was caught off P.E.I. is surprising.
“They are very rare all over the world. Their numbers are declining,” he said.
“You usually only hear of reports, maybe every two to three years, if that. In the last 130 years there’s only been 34 actual recorded incidents of great whites in our waters.”
Vertebrae from the shark, still preserved at the Bedford lab, were recently reanalyzed for the shark’s age. The large female was estimated to be 19 years old.
Fishermen Doug Fraser was there when the shark was brought ashore. He had seen sharks a metre long and slightly longer before, but nothing like the behemoth McKendrick had hauled.
“The tail would have been dragging off the end of the dump truck. The girth of it was probably over six feet,” said Fraser.
“It was a pretty huge monster to see, and a great collection of teeth.”
After it was caught, said Joyce, the shark was immediately buried in a nearby gravel pit. A fisheries officer dug it up two weeks later to measure it and preserve some of the bones. Those are stored at the shark research lab in Bedford. The jawbone is on display at a museum in Florida.