Shark ‘too close for comfort’ in N.S.

HALIFAX — A great white shark has been detected near Halifax — the second great white spotted in Nova Scotia in a month — prompting at least some people to stay out of the water.

One Twitter user joked it was “a little too close for comfort,” after a 600-kilogram tagged shark named Hilton signalled it was in Mahone Bay, a tourist town 85 kilometres from Halifax on the province’s south shore.

Hilton — tagged by the research group Ocearch in Hilton Head, S.C., in March — signalled he was in Mahone Bay on Sunday.

“Hilton has been travelling north along the coast of southern Nova Scotia for the past week and a half,” the group said on Facebook Wednesday.

Rebecca South of Mahone Bay said she and some friends cancelled their usual Wednesday habit of skurfing — riding a surfboard towed behind a speedboat — because it would take them to an open-sea area in which Hilton has roamed.

“Often sharks attack surfboards because they mistake them as seals, and that’s what we’re on. So we’ve just been talking about that and opted not to go today,” South, owner of Rebecca’s Restaurant in Mahone Bay, said Wednesday.

“Even though it’s beautiful and wonderful outside… you know for 100 per cent sure that, yes there is a great white shark in and around Mahone Bay.”

South said she would still be comfortable swimming at one of the area’s popular beaches, because Hilton would be less likely to be there. She admitted, though, she has seen the 1975 movie “Jaws,” and is aware that sharks do sometimes go near shore — “but not as often.”

In late July, a 300-kilogram great white shark affectionately known as Pumpkin was detected in Nova Scotia’s Minas Basin as she feasted on an abundance of seals.

In November, a 900-kilogram great white named Lydia — who like Hilton has her own Ocearch-managed Twitter account — was among two tracking off Nova Scotia.

Ocearch chairman Chris Fischer has said white sharks could be using Nova Scotia’s Sable Island as a place to mate.

On Monday, Hilton tweeted a map showing his Nova Scotia location and called to another Twitter-using shark: “Hey @SharkSavannah, come on up. Lots of good eating here!”

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy says the animal is the largest predatory fish in the world, with a powerful jaw full of serrated teeth and a body that can weigh up to 1,800 kilograms. But, it says the population in the North Atlantic has dropped by 75 per cent in the past 15 years and is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable.

They have been protected from harvesting in U.S. waters since 1991, but the conservancy says still so little is known about where the sharks travel, pup and feed.

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