Shark netted in western Nunavut is a salmon shark: DFO

Salmon sharks are frequent visitors to waters off southern Alaska

From left: Kevin Ongahak, Ian Niptanatiak, John Kapakatoak and Kevin Klengenberg of Kugluktuk hold the shark that Kapakatoak pulled up in his seal nets near the western Nunavut community. (Photo by Miranda Atatahak/Facebook)

By Jane George

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has confirmed that the big, sharp-toothed shark netted earlier this week near the western Nunavut community of Kugluktuk was a salmon shark, not its close relative from the east, a porbeagle shark, as some had suggested.

John Kapakatoak had pulled in the 1.8-metre shark that was found caught in his seal nets on Sept. 16.

Salmon sharks, which are closely related to porbeagle sharks, are frequent visitors to waters off southern Alaska.

Nigel Hussey, a marine scientist and expert in sharks from the University of Windsor, told Nunatsiaq News it would be unusual for either species, salmon or porbeagle sharks, to be in this region.

“Even for salmon sharks, they don’t normally range this far north. Therefore this capture suggests either this is a one-off and the shark had roamed a long way from home or, coupled with noted shark captures in Greenland, that there is the potential for these sharks to be expanding their home range northwards,” he said.

The DFO says you can identify salmon sharks by, among other traits, their “awl-like” teeth. (Photo by Miranda Atatahak/Facebook)

The DFO says you can recognize a salmon shark from its short snout and two horizontal keels near its tail fin. Salmon sharks also have a short and heavy body and teeth that are awl-like.

The salmon shark, a species of mackerel shark usually found in the northern Pacific ocean, likes to feed on salmon, squid, sablefish and herring.

People can also eat salmon shark meat, and the heart is considered a delicacy for use in sashimi in parts of Japan, according to online sources.

The salmon shark is not the first unusual sea life to be seen in western Nunavut. The region’s waters have also hosted visiting pods of belugas and narwhals.

Salmon, one of this shark’s favourite foods, have also scouted out warming Arctic waters.

In 2016 and 2017 commercial fishers near Cambridge Bay were surprised when they pulled in sockeye salmon—because they were expecting to see only Arctic char.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Bob Mesher on

    Interestingly, sharks do not have any bones. Rather, their skeleton is made of cartilage.

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