White shark (Carcharodon carcharias) COSEWIC assessment and status report: chapter 4
The white shark is widely distributed in sub-polar to tropical seas of both hemispheres, from 60°N to 60°S, but it is most frequently observed and captured in inshore temperate waters over the continental shelves of the western North Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, southern Africa, southern Australia, New Zealand, and the eastern North Pacific (Figure 2, Compagno 2001). In the western North Atlantic, the white shark ranges from Hare Bay, Newfoundland, to northern Brazil (Templeman 1963, Gadig and Rosa 1996). In the eastern North Pacific, it ranges from the central Bering Sea to Mazatlan, Mexico (Kato 1965, Cook pers. comm. 1987). This species occurs sporadically in Canadian waters, known from only 47 confirmed or probable records since 1874 (Table 1, Figure 3).
Figure 2. Global distribution of white sharks. Map source: Compagno 2001.
Please note that Table 1 has been split in two sections: Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.
|Pig Island, Northumberland Strait, NS||1000-2000 years bp||UNK||UNK||Tooth in oyster stratum||Gilhen (1998)|
|St. Pierre Bank, NS||1873 or 1874||3.9||UNK||Teeth in attacked dory||Putnam (1874)|
|Off Hubbard Cove, St. Margaret's Bay, NS||June 27, 1920||4.6||UNK||Tooth scarpes on attacked dory||Piers (1934)|
|White Head Island, near Grand Manan, NB||June (mid), 1930||11.3*||UNK||Trapped in herring weir||Vladykov & McKenzie (1935)|
|16 km NW of Digby Gut, NS||July 2, 1932||4.6||UNK||Tooth in attacked motorboat||Piers (1933)|
|Harbour de Loutre, Campobello Island, NB||November 22, 1932||7.9*||UNK||Trapped in herring weir||Piers (1933)|
|Wedgeport, NS||August, 1938||2.6||M||Caught on rod & line by Ms. Micchael Lerner; mass 196 kg||Anon (1940) in Templeman (1963)|
|Whale Head, N shore, St. Lawrence River||August, 1938||UNK||UNK||Vladykov & McAllister (1961)|
|Isle Caribou, N shore, St. Lawrence River||August, 1942||2.7||UNK||Vladykov & McAllister (1961)|
|Isle Caribou, N shore, St. Lawrence River||August, 1943||3||UNK||Vladykov & McAllister (1961)|
|Deer Island, NB||August 24, 1949||3.87||F||Trapped in herring weir; immature, mass 590 kg||Scattergood et al. (1951)|
|Portneuf River estuary, N shore, St. Lawrence River||August 27, 1949||4.6||UNK||Shot by W.B. Scott||Templeman (1963)|
|Between Passamaquoddy Bay & Grand Manan, NB||August 20, 1952||4.3||UNK||Observed attack on porpoise||Day & Fisher (1954)|
|Off Fourchu, Cape Breton Island, NS||July 9, 1953||3.7||UNK||Teeth in attacked dory||Day & Fisher (1954)|
|Wedgeport, NS||July 9-10, 1953||2.4||M||Caught on rod & line (tuna fisherman)||Day & Fisher (1954)|
|La Have Islands, NS||August 12, 1953||4.7||UNK||Caught in herring trap||Day & Fisher (1954)|
|St. Croix River, near Dochet Island between ME & NB||August 25, 1953||UNK||UNK||Observed attack on seal||Day & Fisher (1954)|
|Mace's Bay, Bay of Fundy, NB||August 3, 1954||2.6||UNK||Trapped in herring weir||Leim & Day (1959)|
|Maces Bay, NB||September 10, 1954||4.87||F||Caught in herring weir||Hogans & Dadswell (1985)|
|Ireland Bight, Hare Bay; depth 26 m||August 10, 1956||3.7||UNK||Teeth in codtrap leader||Templeman (1963)|
|SE Grand Bank (44°30'N, 50°12'W)||August, 1956||3.7-4.6||UNK||Spanish otter trawl Santa Ines||Templeman (1963)|
|Northumberland Strait, 13 km off Wallace, NS||July 30, 1962||3||UNK||Caught in hake gillnet; tooth examined by L.R. Day||Templeman (1963)|
|Northumberland Strait, 13 km off Wallace, NS||August (1st week), 1962||2.7||UNK||Caught in hake gillnet; ID by W.G. Smith, fishery officer||Templeman (1963)|
|Wallace, NS||August, 1962+||6||UNK||Observed in hake gillnets, escaped||Templeman (1963)|
|Wallace, NS||September, 1962+||6||UNK||Observed in hake gillnets, escaped||Templeman (1963)|
|Passamaquoddy Bay, between ME & NB||1969||UNK||UNK||Observed attack on porpoise||Arnold (1972)|
|Passamaquoddy Bay off Leonardville, Deer Island, NB||August 13-14, 1971||4.3||F||Caught in otter trawl||Scott & Scott (1988)|
|Letite Passage, NB||August 8, 1977+||5.05||F||Caught in herring weir||Hogans & Dadswell (1985)|
|Passamaquoddy Bay, off Mascarene Shore, NB||August 8-9, 1977+||5.2||UNK||Tarpped in herring weir||Scott & Scott (1988)|
|Gulf of St. Lawrence, off Alberton, PEI||August 4, 1983||5.2||M||Caught in cod gillnet||Scott & Scott (1988)|
|Off Tiverton, PEI||July, 1988||4.5||UNK||Caught in gillnet||Connors Bros. Ltd. In Mollomo (1998)|
|Southern Scotian Shelf||November, 1989||UNK||UNK||Japanese longliner (200 kg)||Scotia-Fundy Observer database|
|Sable Island||Late 1980s||UNK||UNK||Tooth recovered from seal carcass||Campana, pers. comm. (2004)|
|Bay of Fundy||Early 1990s||4.2||UNK||Caught in gillnet||Campana, pers. comm. (2004)|
|Scotian Shelf||December, 1999||UNK||UNK||Japanese longliner (65 kg)||Scotia-Fundy Observer database|
|Esperanza Inlet, Vancouver Island||August 17, 1961||4-6||UNK||Teeth in float bag of salmon troller||Collier et al. (1996)|
|Creek Mouth, Island Bay, QCI||October 24, 1961||3.4||UNK||Stranded on beach||Pike (1962)|
|Lawn Point, Graham Island, QCI||September (late), 1977||3-4||UNK||Stranded on beach, in advanced state of decomposition||RAM data|
|Un-named beach, Moresby Island, QCI||October, 1977||4.5||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|Cape Ball, Graham Island, QCI||October 20, 1977||5.5||F||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|Un-named beach, Lyell Island, QCI||Novermber 25, 1977||4.5||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|Cape Ball, Graham Island, QCI||Autumn (early), 1983||4||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|Long Inlet, Graham Island, QCI||December 16, 1986||5||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|near Queen Charlotte City, Graham Island, QCI||Autumn (early), 1987||5||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|Long Inlet, Graham Island, QCI||December 16, 1987||5.2||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|East Beach, near Cape Ball, Graham Island, QCI||Autumn, 1988||5||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|Skidegate Inlet, Graham Island, QCI||Autumn, 1988||4-5||UNK||Stranded on beach||RAM data|
|North side of Goose Island, Queen Charlotte Sound, BC||September, 2004||2.5||UNK||Vertebrae found on beach||Found by Jane Watson ID by RAM|
|Cape Ball, Graham Island, QCI, BC||25 Oct 2004||4.6||UNK||25 vertebrae, bits of cartilage (including left Meckel's cartilage), chondrocranium, teeth and patches of skin||RAM data|
RAM=R. Aidan Martin
The northernmost record of a white shark in the eastern North Pacific is a single white shark approximately 4 m in total length observed feeding on salmon in the spring of 1985 off Cordova, Alaska (latitude 60°17’N). Species confirmation is supported by the carcass of a sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) bearing distinctive bites of a white shark (R.A.Martin-author, unpublished data). At least 15 other specimens have been reported from Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska (Bonham 1942; LeMier 1951; Pike 1962; Royce 1963; Karinen et al. 1985; Coad 1995; Collier et al. 1996).
The northernmost record for a white shark in the western North Atlantic is a 3.7 m specimen caught in August 1956 on a cod trap leader set at a depth of 25 m off Ireland Bight, Hare Bay, Newfoundland (latitude 51°18’N) (Templeman 1963). Mollomo (1998) gives 44 other records of this species from Maine and Atlantic Canada waters.
In Canada’s Pacific waters, the white shark has been recorded from Esperanza Inlet and Hecate Strait (Pike 1962; R.A. Martin-author, unpublished data). White shark records from British Columbia consist almost exclusively of strandings on the leeward shores of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) during late autumn and early winter months (Figure 3a, Table 1b), plus a single attack on commercial fishing gear (Collier et al. 1996). Lack of strandings from seaward shores of the Queen Charlottes may reflect sparse human settlement rather than distributional or stranding bias of white sharks.
Figure 3. Locality, month, and total length of white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) captures, strandings, attacks, and reports from Canadian waters. A. British Columbia. B. Atlantic Canada.
Off Atlantic Canada, the white shark has been recorded from the northeast Newfoundland Shelf, the Strait of Belle Isle, the St. Pierre Bank, Sable Island Bank, the Forchu Misaine Bank, in St. Margaret’s Bay, off Cape La Have, in Passamaquoddy Bay, in the Bay of Fundy, in the Northumberland Strait, and in the Laurentian Channel as far inland as the Portneuf River Estuary (Putnam 1874; Piers 1934; Vladykov and McKenzie 1935; Day and Fisher 1954; Leim and Day 1959; Vladykov and McAllister 1961; Templeman 1963; Arnold 1972; Molomo 1998). White shark records from Atlantic Canada (Figure 3b, Table 1a) consist primarily of incidental captures plus four cases of attacks on boats (Templeman 1963; Mollomo 1998). Of 30 Atlantic Canada records for which the month is known, 20 occurred during the month of August, the remainder occurred during June, July, or September with an additional record in November and one in December. Clustering of white shark records in Atlantic Canada during late summer months suggests they may be correlated with the seasonal shift of the warm Gulf Stream toward the coast (Hogg 1992).
Collectively, the foregoing suggests that the Canadian component of this species distribution represents the northern fringe of their distribution.
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