Giant P.E.I. great white shark just a ‘teenager’


Famous P.E.I. Great white shark after its capture in 1983; photo via Canadian Shark Research Lab

A great white shark caught off Canada's Prince Edward Island in 1983 was listed as one of the world's five most legendary sharks last summer by the Discovery Channel. At 17-plus feet it was and remains one of the largest white sharks ever measured.

"It was a pretty huge monster to see, and a great collection of teeth," Doug Fraser, a fisherman who was present during the catch, told CBC. "The girth of it was probably over six feet.”


P.E.I. great white shark was hauled up dead in a net; photo via Canadian Shark Research Lab

Now new research suggests that the famous P.E.I shark, a female that was hauled up dead in a net by David McKendrick, was not even an adult, but a "teenager" with plenty of growing years ahead.

The revelation comes after the discovery of new methods used to determine the age and maturity of sharks: radiocarbon analysis, or looking for radioactivity exposure caused by nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 60s.

The new research suggests that white sharks grow more slowly than previously thought, and do not mature until about the age of 30.

A skeletal study of the P.E.I shark, one of a very small number of large great whites ever caught or spotted off Canada’s Maritime Province, determined its age to be about 20 years old.

"It's a teenager in shark years," Steven Campana, who runs the Canadian Shark Research Lab in Nova Scotia, told CBC. "If it would have lived longer, it would have gotten a lot bigger…. It was a big shark, but it still had a lot of growing to do."


P.E.I. great white shark being hauled away in a dump truck; photo via Canadian Shark Research Lab

The P.E.I shark was buried in a gravel pit, but later recovered so its skeleton could be collected for science.

Two white sharks whites might have been larger. A great white caught off Cuba in 1945 was said to measure 21 feet and weigh 7,000 pounds, and a great white caught off Malta in 1987 was said to measure 23 feet. (Most adult white sharks measure to about 16 feet.)

Both of those measurements, however, have fallen under scrutiny and might have been exaggerated.

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