OCEARCH's previous work helped expose Nova Scotia as white shark hotspot. Now we're coming back to drill deeper and develop our most advanced understanding yet of these apex predators.

Hundreds of white sharks are gathering right now off the Nova Scotia coast and now OCEARCH is bringing an advanced team of multidisciplinary shark researchers to Canada to study the sharks’ biology, physiology, health and more. OCEARCH’s Expedition Nova Scotia 2020 will build on the work from two prior successful expeditions that tagged and sampled 17 white sharks off the province’s coast. Together these two expeditions helped to both expose the prevalence of white sharks in the Canadian Maritimes and also provided researchers with clues to help them start discovering how the sharks are utilizing the Canadian coast. The newest expedition aims to increase the samples size of tagged white sharks and help develop our most advanced understanding yet of white sharks.

“This trip is really for the Canadian people. It has been incredible to see Canadians getting so excited to learn about sharks in their waters.”

Dr. Bob Hueter, OCEARCH Chief Scientist

Data from the OCEARCH Tracker shows that many of the sharks tagged on past expeditions to the area have already returned to Nova Scotia this year. The tagged sharks along with many others spotted by boaters and beach goers have been captivating residents of the province in the news and online for the past few months. Recent sightings have also prompted some of the first ever beach closures in Nova Scotia history. Additionally, OCEARCH has also seen an increase on its social media channels from Canadian fans writing in to report sightings and to express both excitement and concerns about the apex predators present off their coast. OCEARCH’s 2020 expedition will help educate this engaged audience in Nova Scotia as well as inspire others to learn about and protect their oceans.

“We are asked all the time why white sharks seem to suddenly be appearing here off the Nova Scotia coast,” said OCEARCH Expedition Leader and Founding Chairman Chris Fischer. “The reality is that we suspect they’ve been here for quite some time, we just know about them now. Our expeditions in 2018 and 2019 really helped expose Nova Scotia as a white shark hotspot in the Northwest Atlantic. Now that we know they are here in big numbers, it’s time to drill down and understand exactly how these animals are utilizing the area and how healthy the population is. We plan to gather the data needed to answer those questions on this expedition.”

Samples from every shark tagged during Expedition Nova Scotia 2020 will be used to support 21 research projects being conducted by 35 scientists from 24 research organizations, making them some of the most comprehensively studied sharks in history. Microbiologists will examine the bacteria found in the sharks’ mouths to help treat bite victims, meanwhile other researchers will take fluid and blood samples to study both the reproductive and overall health of the white shark population and to learn about their behavior. As apex predators these sharks are the balance keepers of the ocean and their presence off Canada is a sign of healthy oceans, which OCEARCH hopes to help maintain by arming the Canadian government with the appropriate information needed to make decisions. The advanced data gathered during the trip will be made available to the Canadian government in order to help influence public safety and conservation policies in the country.

“This trip is really for the Canadian people,” said OCEARCH Chief Scientist Dr. Bob Hueter. “It has been incredible to see Canadians getting so excited to learn about sharks in their waters. We’ll be bringing a team of scientists with a wide range of unique expertise so that they can collaborate and apply their combined knowledge to start solving more complex problems than ever before with regards to sharks. We’re so excited to share these advanced findings with Canadian communities and help them learn about their own oceans. What’s really exciting is that through the OCEARCH Tracker and through the advanced studies we will be sharing, we’ll all be learning about the sharks together.”

OCEARCH spent the last several months collaborating with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to secure the proper permits for the expedition and DFO officials will monitor the expedition closely to ensure all components of the permits are followed. Additionally OCEARCH continues to work closely with Canadian customs officials to ensure strict COVID-19 protocols are followed during the crew arrival, throughout the expedition and during crew departure. Unfortunately COVID-19 protocols means OCEARCH will not be able to conduct the community outreach it’s accustomed to conducting surrounding the expedition. Instead the crew will keep everyone updated as the expedition unfolds on its website and via its social media channels.

Expedition Nova Scotia 2020 will start in Main-a-dieu on September 8 and move down the coast before ending near Lunenburg on October 6. Along the way the team will stop at locations where many sharks were tagged in the past such as Scaterie Island and West Ironbound Island, but the team will also be looking for new locations to find reliable access to the sharks.

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