Legendary Great White Named One Of World's Top Five Sharks

A great white shark caught in the waters off Canada in 1988 has been named one of the world's top five legendary sharks, as the lead up to Discovery Channel's annual Shark Week continues.

The great white was the trophy of Alberton fisherman David McKendrick, who hauled the shark from the waters surrounding Canada's Prince Edward Island, CBC reports. The shark became tangled in McKendrick's net as he fished off the western side of the island, and died before it was brought to the surface. A large female, the shark was a rarity in the northern seas.

"You usually only hear of reports, maybe every two to three years, if that," said Warren Joyce of the Canadian Shark Research Laboratory in Bedford, Nova Scotia. "In the last 130 years there's only been 34 actual recorded incidents of great whites in our waters."

The specimen caught by McKendrick was even rarer still, one of the two largest great whites ever accurately measured, Joyce said. According to Discovery, the shark was an astonishing 20 feet in length.

Vertebrae that were preserved from the great white have since been examined, and researchers have determined that the shark was about 17 years old at the time it was caught. Fishermen Doug Fraser, who was there when the great white was brought into the harbor by McKendrick, marveled at the size of the shark, which was far larger than the meter-long examples he was familiar with:

"The tail would have been dragging off the end of the dump truck. The girth of it was probably over six feet... It was a pretty huge monster to see, and a great collection of teeth."

The great white was buried in a nearby gravel pit. All evidence of the shark would have been lost if not for the efforts of a Canadian Fisheries Officer, who excavated the body of the great white two weeks later. That officer was able to accurately measure the shark, and collected bones for preservation. The shark's jaw is on display in a Florida museum.

As Discovery's Shark Week approaches, the annual event has already been marred by controversy, as The Inquisitr has reported. A video which purported to show a shark swimming in Lake Ontario so deeply alarmed Canadian officials and locals that the network was forced to reveal that it was a hoax, meant to garner attention for Shark Week. Last year, a special focusing on the extinct Megalodon shark brought widespread criticism to bear on the network, when it was revealed to be a "mockumentary," with paid actors taking on the roles of scientists.

The world record for a great white shark is 6.3 meters.

[Images via Canadian Shark Research Laboratory]