Couple spots great white shark off coast of Saint Andrews

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A couple sailing east off the coast of Saint Andrews, N.B., spotted a great white shark Saturday.

Kelly Pendleton and her husband were steering back to shore when they saw the shark.

Her husband saw something floating in the water and Pendleton joked it looked like a shark fin.

"We got closer and realized it actually was," said Pendleton, who had never seen a shark prior to the encounter.

"I was a little bit scared actually. I didn't think it would hit the boat or anything, but when it's that close they're so big. It's a little intimidating."

The shark circled around the boat three or four times, she said.

Great white sharks are classified as endangered in Canada, although sightings of the species happen now and then near Saint Andrews.

Nicole Leavitt-Kennedy, senior marine biologist for St. Andrew's Sport Fishing Co. and Island Quest Whale Watching, examined video footage captured by Pendleton and confirmed it's a great white based on its tall, pointed dorsal fin.

Leavitt-Kennedy said it was likely female based on its large tail stock.

The great white shark is likely feeding off fish, seals or porpoise in the Bay of Fundy. It's estimated to be about five metres long.

Leavitt-Kennedy would not give out the exact location of the shark because she fears it could be hunted.

The shark didn't ping on Ocearch, the data organization that tracks sharks, as it isn't tagged.

Leavitt-Kennedy said most sharks in the Bay of Fundy are not tagged simply because there are hundreds of them. She said awareness of shark sightings is becoming increasingly common, as people are more and more frequently using their camera to take photos and videos of the fishes.

"Seeing a white shark in nature kind of doing its thing is an amazing experience, but … there is nothing that makes it stand out specifically."

There were several sightings of great white sharks taking seals during whale watches last year, Leavitt-Kennedy said.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies great whites as a vulnerable species, meaning they're at high risk of extinction. Vulnerable is the classification before endangered.

White sharks may poke a boat, but they do not see humans as prey and attacks are rare.