For the second year in a row, researchers are conducting a campaign to monitor great white sharks off the Magdalen Islands. This notorious predator is on the rise in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
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Once the researchers arrived near Prion Island, four sharks were photographed using a drone. The researchers also noticed seals bearing signs of injury, including a live seal that approached the schooner they were working from.
The St. Lawrence Shark Observatory and Ecomaris have teamed up to learn more about these giant fish, a frequent occurrence in the Gulf.
Off Brion Island in 2022, between 40 and 50 individuals were counted by Oceans Canada. Their presence is also confirmed by the discovery of individuals equipped with a beacon.
Several techniques are used to attract and monitor sharks, including a lure called the Kenny. It is a cork board that imitates the silhouette of a seal. It is equipped with cameras and an organic material dispenser to attract sharks.
The researchers are on Brion Island because it is a protected area, not frequented by humans. Although sharks have been frequenting this sector for a very long time, their numbers seem to be increasing because this species is protected and the 2,000 fish in the North Atlantic seem to be more common.
“We’re seeing more and more of them because their numbers are increasing and also because the seals are protected,” said Jeffrey Gallant, head of the St. Lawrence Shark Observatory. “There are already plenty of seals to eat, especially on the islands. Their numbers are expected to continue to increase, but they remain an endangered species and are protected.
This mission is also an opportunity to talk about the myths surrounding white sharks.
Movies of the 1980s introduced them to us as cannibals, while attacks are extremely rare. Mr. Gallant noted that simple precautions can prevent shark encounters.
“In particular, don’t venture out of a seal colony like here on Brion Island. If we stick to public beaches, designated places, which the locals know and are safe, the risk of encountering a shark and being attacked is very small, so we shouldn’t worry about it.” “.
The duration of shark migration can be affected by climate change. They frequent the Gulf from June to November whereas previously they were only present in August and September.
If the opportunity arises, the researchers will try to tag the sharks to track their progress in collaboration with the US organization Ocearch.
The science mission will continue until Sept. 1.
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