Shark sighting not uncommon, says researcher

There was a shark sighting in the St. Margaret's Bay over the weekend, but it turns out it's actually common to see in Atlantic waters.

At Queensland Beach on Monday, people had heard about the shark, but it didn't stop many from going into the water.

"I grew up in Cape Breton and swam in the ocean all my life, so I'm not overly concerned. We heard that they saw a fin yesterday but not overly concerned," said Heather Deacon.

Cara MacLean said she was more curious about the shark rather than feeling nervous about it.

"We're not worried. If it was a larger shark in the water, we'd get the kids to get out, but typically the sharks they see around here are fairly small," said Cara MacLean.

Ed Walker, who dives in the area, went down to the dock to see the shark for himself.

"It was within ten feet of the shoreline — just a small shark, about four feet in length, blue grey in colour, kind of a pointed snout," said Walker.

Walker thought it might have been a blue shark, the most common in Atlantic Canadian waters. But based on photos, shark researchers at Dalhousie think it was a porbeagle shark.

"I identified at the end porbeagle because they are so common in our waters. It was pretty clear. You can differentiate porbeagle because of their size and their shape. So they're a bit more bulkier than other sharks we have in our waters, and they also have a distinctive patch of white behind their dorsal fin," said Aurelie Godin, a shark researcher for Dalhousie University.

She said commercial fishermen report seeing porbeagle sharks often, though it is less common inshore.

They're often annoyances to fishermen because they tend to eat fish like cod.

Humans are the dangerous ones to sharks. Sharks regularly get caught by fishing boats. So much so, scientists estimate the porbeagle shark population in Atlantic Canada has dropped 80 per cent.

Even though their population has declined, she said it is common to see them in Nova Scotia waters.

There's never been a recorded shark attack in Nova Scotia.

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