Skip to content

Four of the six OCEARCH-tagged sharks have returned to Nova Scotia

Halifax's namesake shark was last detected near Cape Sable Island on Saturday

UPDATE: Jane pinged right beside McNabs Island at 4:47 a.m. on Tuesday, July 23

When OCEARCH researchers came to Nova Scotia last fall on their first shark tagging expedition in Canadian waters, they were able to attach satellite transmitters to the fins of six great whites.

After heading south for the winter, four of those sharks have now returned to our waters.

Named for the people of Lunenburg, Luna got her SPOT tag on Thanksgiving Day near West Ironbound Island, then spent some time in the Bay of Fundy before it cooled down. She's headed back to that spot, pinging on July 18th near Digby.

Cabot and Hal were both detected on July 20 near the southwestern tip of the province. Cabot was southeast of Big Tusket Island, and Halifax's namesake shark was hanging out near Cape Sable Island.

Jane is the new arrival. The first female white shark ever SPOT tagged in Canadian waters pinged east of Lockeport this morning.

Once a tagged shark's fin breaks the surface of the ocean for more than 30 seconds, the SPOT transmitter is detected and its location can be tracked on OCEARCH's website.

Nova and Jefferson were also tagged during last fall's expedition, however neither shark has been detected for months. 

Nova last popped up on the site March 8 when he was just south of the Florida Keys. Jefferson hasn't been heard from since April 17 when he was near North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Also missing in action, the popular shark that prompted OCEARCH's interest in our province. Hilton has been out of touch since March 11, when he pinged near Charleston.

In an interview with last fall, the group's founder Chris Fischer said the battery on the tag lasts for about 5 years, but sometimes tags can stop working before the power runs out.

"Barnacles and grasses grow on it and it bends over the antenna and it can't transmit," he said.

It's not known if that's why we haven't heard from Nova, Jefferson and Hilton for a few months. Fischer also explained, sometimes the sharks just don't surface for long periods of time.

"They don't have to put their fin out of the water. Some of these sharks do it all the time, they're big pingers. And then there's some of these sharks, it's like they're shy or whatever, different genetics, and they just don't come up much."

Nova Scotians may also want to get to know a couple of new sharks on the OCEARCH website.

Brunswick was the first to make its way up to our waters this season.

Named for Brunswick, Georgia, the 8'9" great white shark was tagged earlier this year near Hilton Head, S.C. He pinged in the upper part of the Gulf of Maine, not far from Nova Scotia's Brier Island and New Brunswick's Grand Manan Island on June 10.

After that, he headed out into the deeper water before swimming around Sable Island and Cape Breton Island, last being detected on July 15 in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence near the Magdalen Islands.

And Helena was tagged in March near Daytona, Florida. She swam up the east coast and passed well south of the province on her way to Newfoundland.

Following the success of last year's expedition, OCEARCH plans to return to Nova Scotia this fall.


Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for
Read more
Rogers Media
6080 Young Street Halifax, NS, B3K 5L2 © 2006-2019 Rogers Media. All rights reserved.