As video of blue shark emerges, experts say Van. Island waters home to diverse shark population

WatchAn amazing encounter in the waters near Ucluelet was caught on video as a man tried reeling in a salmon and instead found a shark on his line. Turns out Vancouver Island is actually home to more than a dozen shark species. April Lawrence has more.

Dave Schofield was on a fishing trip with Ucluelet Fishing Charters and Little Beach Resorts Monday when he thought he was reeling in the big one.

Turns out the salmon he had on his hook had a blue shark attached to it as well.

“Sure enough there was a great big blue shark with half of my fish gone,” Schofield said.

And the shark was hungry for more.

“Hit the boat about three times over the side we were all going wow, it was quite aggressive,” he said.

“I was quite shocked, thinking holy crap I don’t want to fall in the water,” he joked.

While the video is incredible, spotting blue sharks in the waters off Vancouver Island’s coast isn’t that unusual.

“Within about 70 kilometres of the coastline blue sharks are fairly common in the summer,” said UVic shark biologist Geoffrey Osgood.

More than a dozen species of sharks have been documented in the waters off B.C.’s coast. Most swim out in open ocean although you can find the spiny dogfish and, less commonly, the six-gill shark, in the Salish Sea.

Among them is the fierce-looking salmon shark. One was spotted 250 kilometres off Vancouver Island in July rubbing parasites off on a floating log. And in 2017, former NHL player Willie Mitchell saw one off Tofino.

Less common in B.C., but not unheard of, is the gnarly-toothed mako shark, which happens to be the fastest shark in the ocean.

And even great white sharks have been documented as far north as Haida Gwaii.

“They’re not very frequent here, and if you encounter them, that’s actually I think a lucky thing for you more than anything cause they are very rare on this coast,” said Osgood.

Even the much more common salmon shark has never been identified in an attack. Biologists say it’s the sharks that are under threat, both from fishing and warming waters.

Experts say climate change could bring more sharks to our region in the decades ahead, including species never seen here before like the hammerhead shark.

And they say that means the Canadian government needs to do more to protect them.

“We actually do have a lot of sharks here and I think Canada needs to step up its role recognizing all the diversity that we do have, in terms of leading shark conservation on the world stage,” said Osgood.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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