There’s hope: Canada’s largest and most endangered fish spotted off Canada’s West Coas

Basking shark observed off the Brooks Peninsula on Canada’s Pacific coast in August 2013.

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.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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