File photo - Pixabay

New Brunswick couple followed by great white shark

Woman recounts close encounter with great white shark as terrifying

A New Brunswick couple says they got away unscathed after they were followed by a great white shark while canoeing during an otherwise-tranquil June day.

Pat Barker and her husband, both avid canoers, were paddling through Passamaquoddy Bay toward Deer Island a couple of weeks ago.

At one point, they noticed that a dorsal fin had pulled up alongside their 24-foot-long canoe.

Barker said they thought it was a porpoise at first, but due to the creature’s colour and size — dark grey with a white underside and around 4.5 metres long — they quickly surmised it was probably a great white shark.

“I looked down, and I think, in my mind, I still wanted to see that porpoise shape,” she said.

“The girth around this thing was gobsmackingly huge. I can’t even describe it … it felt like I was coming up to a submarine.”

The predator turned towards the boat, dipped underwater, and circled around the back of the boat, she said.

RELATED: Ex-Canuck Willie Mitchell spots rare salmon shark off Tofino

As the couple hurried back to shore, she said, the shark followed them for some time, pushing a mound of water in front of it — Barker couldn’t say how long they were pursued, as she didn’t want to look back.

“It was terrifying,” she said. “I thought I was going to die. I thought that was it.”

After the couple reached the shore, Barker said they consulted a local shark expert in the area, who supported their theory that it was a great white shark based on their descriptions.

Chris Fischer, founding chairman of leading shark research group Ocearch, said the East Coast is emerging as a popular spot for great whites during their mating season.

Ocearch has publically-accessible live global shark tracker on their website, and according to the tracker there are currently a few sharks in Atlantic Canadian waters.

George, a mature male great white shark, is hanging around the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, while Betsy, a young female, is located just off the coast of Canso, N.S.

Further offshore, a handful of blue sharks, mako sharks, and tiger sharks can be seen on the tracker.

Hilton, a 600 kilogram great white shark who won over the hearts of Nova Scotians last year during his extended trip to Atlantic Canada, is currently off the coast of North Carolina — but Fischer said he’s headed towards Atlantic Canada.

“We have been seeing regular activity of our white sharks up there, moving up there this time of year, staying through ‘til late fall,” he said. “We believe that this has been happening since the beginning of time.”

RELATED: Elusive Greenland sharks caught on camera in Nunavut

Fischer said Atlantic Canadians should expect to see more sharks in August, and that the ones already there are early arrivals.

Though the idea of sharks may strike fear into the hearts of anyone who’s seen “Jaws,” Fischer said that having a lot of sharks around is actually a good thing.

“Lots of sharks means lots of fish sandwiches, lots of clams, lots of oysters, lots of lobsters,” he said, explaining that they’re the balance-keeper at the top of the food chain.

He said they feed on the animals below them in the food chain, keeping those populations under control and maintaining a healthy balance in the ecosystem.

They also keep seals on beaches, preventing them from decimating fish populations.

“The mere presence of the apex predator, the large sharks, modifies their behaviour so they can’t just wipe out the resource,” he said.

He added that shark attacks are exceedingly rare.

“Thousands of people die every year from drowning,” he said. ”Single digits have had fatal interactions with sharks.”

According to National Geographic, only about five people die from shark attacks each year — though the numbers are of little comfort to Barker.

“Sharks don’t know statistics,” she said.

Meanwhile, she said she won’t be heading back toward Deer Island any time soon.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame nominations open

Nominations are open for the North Cowichan/Duncan Sports Wall of Fame class… Continue reading

Editorial: City of Duncan’s expansion dreams will likely be dashed

The city’s tiny geographic footprint, one square mile, the smallest city in Canada, is a problem

Caution on South Island bridges while crews sweep, wash

Beware on bridges until the end of May. Mainroad South Island Contracting… Continue reading

Short-staffed Cowichan Red Arrow fends off JDF

Outnumbered but not outgunned, Cowichan Red Arrow edged out the Juan de… Continue reading

Stakeholders need to ante up more cash to run Lake Cowichan visitors centre: chamber

Increasing costs like wages must be there in black and white for negotiating process

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Coming up in Cowichan: World Water Day

Shawnigan Lake marks World Water Day Got clean local water? “The ability… Continue reading

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

Most Read