The remains of a great white shark have washed ashore in Nova Scotia, and officials are wondering what could have killed the massive predator, which is only rarely observed so far north.
The white shark was discovered by officials with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources when they flew over it in a helicopter while doing unrelated work. They spotted the shark’s remains laying among rocks along the Bay of Fundy near Advocate Harbor, according to the CBC.
Warren Joyce, a shark expert who works with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, observed that a sighting of a great white shark so far north is extremely rare, with the last one occurring in 2014 off St. Andrews. Aside from that sighting, only three other encounters with white sharks have been reported in the area over the last five years.
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Joyce noted that the shark was identified by its teeth, which unmistakably marked it as a great white. Based on the appearance of its remains, he noted that the white shark had likely been dead for some time, and had suffered damage to its gills.
Though researchers only hear of white shark sightings every few years, the animals have long been known to frequent the region. As the Inquisitr previously noted, one of the largest great whites ever caught was landed off Prince Edward Island in the 1980s.
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The shark discovered this week was roughly three meters long, and according to Joyce, will be studied in an effort to determine what killed it. Several animals known to inhabit the region, including orcas and other white sharks, would be capable of injuring a great white, he noted.
“It’s a fairly large animal, right about the size where they start taking seals as their main source of diet. But what could have killed this animal is either an orca — we do have some killer whales present in our waters but they’re very rare — or another large shark, but it would have to be a large white shark. Or maybe it succumbed to a natural death.”
Orcas have previously been observed killing white sharks in the wild, at times even teaching their young how to prey upon the animals. As the ABC reported last year, a group of whale watchers observed a pod of orcas killing a great white off the Neptune Islands in South Australia, driving the local white shark population out of the area for weeks.
Joyce noted that researchers would examine the great white’s spine in an effort to determine the shark’s age at the time of its death.
[Image: N.S. Department of Natural Resources via the CBC]