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'I nearly fell off': Paddleboarder spots shark in waters off White Rock

Dead shark shocks paddler

In 53 years of living in B.C., avid paddleboarder Shannon Sayers never thought she'd come across a shark.

That changed on May 18 during her first trip out for the season. Sayers was about 200 metres off the shore in White Rock when she spotted something floating in the water.

"I didn't know if it was a big fish; I thought maybe it was a seal," she said. "It was kind of bobbing up and down."

Not knowing what she was looking at, she bravely paddled closer to the animal. 

"I was nervous," she said. "It was scary because there was nobody around me."

As she approached it, she quickly realized it was not a seal but a three-metre-long dead shark.

It was later identified as a bluntnose sixgill shark. 

"I was trying to take some photos, and I nearly fell off because I was shaking and nervous. I was like, 'Oh my god,'" said Sayers.

Sayers typically paddleboards five days a week but hasn't ventured back into the ocean since the discovery. She'll venture out again, but likely won't go too far from shore.

"I think it's an eye-opening for everybody," she said. "I am a little bit nervous." 

Other sixgill shark sightings in B.C. recently 

B.C. has 14 recorded species of sharks, a handful of which can be found in the Salish Sea. 

Dr. Jackie King, a research scientist at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says sixgill sharks are often lethargic.

The sharks are often seen by scuba divers in the deep water off Hornby Island, usually about one to one and a half kilometres off the coast. Juveniles can be found in more shallow depths. 

On May 2, a man discovered a 10-foot-long bluntnose sixgill shark washed up dead on the beach near Phipps Point on Hornby Island. 

Then on May 27, divers encountered a bluntnose sixgill shark in the Alberni Inlet and filmed the encounter with the animal. 

Anyone who encounters a basking, bluntnose sixgill, tope or any other shark species in B.C. is encouraged to document it and report it to DFO.



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