Inconspicuous, recovering, or northward shift: Status and management of the white shark (carcharodon carcharias) in atlantic Canada

G. Bastien, University of Windsor
A. Barkley, University of Windsor
J. Chappus, University of Windsor
V. Heath, University of Windsor
S. Popov, University of Windsor
R. Smith, University of Windsor
T. Tran, University of Windsor
S. Currier, University of Windsor
D. C. Fernandez, University of Windsor
P. Okpara, University of Windsor
V. Owen, University of Windsor
B. Franks, Jacksonville University
R. Hueter, OCEARCH
D. J. Madigan, University of Windsor
C. Fischer, OCEARCH
N. E. Hussey, University of Windsor


Although white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) have been considered rare in Atlantic Canada waters, recent sighting records indicate a potentially increasing presence. We combine historical to present sighting data with satellite telemetry tracks of large juvenile and adult white sharks tagged in US (n = 9) and Atlantic Canada waters (n = 17) to show seasonal white shark presence and distribution in Atlantic Canada, returns by individuals over multiple years, and high site fidelity to the region. Telemetry data indicate that white sharks are a more common and consistent occurrence in Canadian waters than previously thought, presenting two potential scenarios: (i) tagging technology is revealing white shark presence that was historically cryptic and (or) (ii) a northward range expansion of white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic, potentially due to climate change, population recovery, and (or) increasing pinniped prey. Given combined sighting and telemetry data indicate a current need for proactive management of white sharks in Atlantic Canada waters, we propose the basis for a management action plan, addressing conservation priorities, management goals, and research incentives while considering the potential for human– shark interactions.