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Presence of great white shark makes waves in quiet community


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This great white shark found its way into a fisherman's weir near Economy in the Bay in Fundy. The shark measured three metres long and weighed about 650 pounds. CBC photo

ECONOMY - Forgive the residents along the Minas Basin if they are a tad leery about heading out for a dip in the bay these days.

The presence of a Jaws-like breed of man-eating sharks will kind of do that to you.

"Everybody's kind of in shock, you know," said Carol McLaughlin, who works in the local gas bar in Economy, regarding a great white shark that recently found its way into the weir of local fisherman Wayne Linkletter.

"I mean, he got a mako last year and we know makos, they're in the bay. But a great white? Everybody's thinking, is the water warming up? I mean for them to be coming in ...

The half-grown, juvenile female shark measured three metres (10 feet) long and weighed in at about 292 kilograms (650 lbs.). Although alive when discovered in the weir on Aug. 7, the shark died shortly after being discovered by Linkletter.

The fisherman, who told media the shark was the largest fish he has ever caught, donated the head of the great white to the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History in Halifax, where its jawbone, containing rows of razor sharp teeth, is being prepared for public display. The rest of the large fish was put away for food, he said.

It has been more than six years since a reported sighting of a great white shark in Atlantic waters.

And while there are still some in the Economy area who have yet to hear of the latest fish tale in this otherwise relatively sleepy community nestled along the winding shores of the headwaters of the Bay of Fundy, for those who have, it is certainly big news.

"It is," McLaughlin said, of the shark's presence. "I mean, a great white in the Minas Basin! You know what I mean. I mean its warm enough, the flats and everything, but that thing had to come right up the gut and up the channel, so he must have been chasing fish or something."

And if there is one, could there be more?

"I always think where there's one there's gotta be two," McLaughlin said, a factor which gives her pause for concern for kayakers she sees paddling out in the Minas Basin.

"You know they chase people (on) surfboards and stuff like that," she said, of the sometimes tragic encounters between man and sharks in other locales.

"Should they really be sitting out there in the bay (on kayaks), you know what I mean?"

And there are certainly some in the community who say they don't plan to hit the area beaches anytime soon, she said.

"The more you tell people and everything (their response is), 'I ain't going swimming down there,"' McLaughlin said.

"That's something else, a 500-pound fish and a set of teeth on it like that."

Meagan McNutt, who works at the visitor information centre in Economy, said talk of the shark has pretty much been confined to the locals and she hasn't noticed any impact or even inquiries from visitors passing through.

But the reason for that, McNutt surmised, is that the news is still in the early circulation stage.

"We've had a couple (of inquiries) but it's not really out there yet, I think," she said.

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