There’s hope: Canada’s largest and most endangered fish spotted off Canada’s West Coas
Seeing a basking shark in B.C. waters these days is like seeing a sasquatch. Since 1996 there have been just 13 confirmed sightings (PDF) in Canada’s Pacific waters. Basking sharks, which can grow as long as 10 metres, were once as common as a salmon. Historical accounts from the 1950s describe inlets full of hundreds of basking sharks, so plentiful they were considered a nuisance. During the 1940s to late 1960s, this shark entered into B.C. coastal waters during the spring and summer, often getting entangled in salmon fishing nets and threatening fishermen’s livelihoods. Complaints led to a government-sponsored eradication program and the sharks’ eventual demise. Even though I wrote a book about the history of basking sharks in B.C., I’ve never seen one in our coastal waters.
On August 8 off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, researcher Wendy Szaniszlo was fortunate to observe and photograph a seven-metre long basking shark. Earlier this summer, Department of Fisheries and Oceans researchers observed a North Pacific right whale in Canadian waters, the first in over 50 years. These rare sightings give us hope that these species may yet return from the brink.
Read the full story here.