Rachael Franz, a coastal naturalist with the BC Ferries Coastal Naturalist Program educates travellers on sharks below BC waters.

Sharks you need to know about in the Georgia Strait

The salmon shark, the spiny dogfish, and even the Great White!

By Baneet Braich

You might be astounded to learn that even the Great White Shark passes through the Georgia Strait.

Now in its 13th season, the BC Ferries Coastal Naturalist program educates passengers on life below the waves and helps raise awareness for B.C.’s wildlife and marine life.

Rachael Franz is one of 15 naturalists who work across seven vessels and five major terminals. She enjoys sharing that, although B.C.’s waters are not the most prominent destination for sharks, they do stop by.

“The main message I get across my presentations is sharks are very powerful creatures and well adapted to exactly what they do, which is hunting,” Franz said.

“If people don’t treat them with respect, it can be dangerous. However, the idea that they are all mindless and bloodthirsty is kind of a misconception.”

Franz said it’s important to break through these ideas and highlight that sharks are intelligent and do not need to be feared as much as one might think.

She encourages the public to report sightings here or call 1-877-50-SHARK to protect the animals and develop scientific research. Find more information on B.C. sharks here.

Great White shark

The Great White Shark (6m) has indeed been spotted in B.C., according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Usually arriving from California, they are not common in B.C. as the waters are too cold, but every now and then, one will show up. Franz said as temperatures increase, sightings will too, but these sharks are not a common threat.

Great Whites are ambush hunters with nearly 300 sharp teeth, preying on seals, otters, dolphins, and other marine mammals.

Basking shark

The highly endangered Basking Shark (12m) is known as the second largest fish in the world.

They were threatened in the 1950s and 60s under a direct eradication program by the DFO due to feeding on zooplankton and being considered an inconvenience to commercial salmon fishing operations.

Franz said only about 14 sightings have occurred in B.C.

Spiny Dogfish

Spiny Dogfish 1.6m) come close to shore and are commonly caught by fishers. There was recently a sighting at Kitsilano beach in Vancouver.

These are aggressive sharks where each dorsal fin has a sharp, venomous spine in front of it.

The name “dogfish” derives from their habit of feeding in packs on small fish such as cod and haddock.

Salmon shark

Salmon sharks (3m) look like mini Great Whites and are not considered dangerous, according to Franz.

They are medium grey with dark spots on the ventral side, with a short heavy body.

These are among the fastest fish in the ocean, going over 80 km/hr and preying on fish like Pacific salmon and Pacific herring.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

B.C. woman set for trial in Alberta as animal cruelty investigation continues in home province

Karin Adams was discovered with eight dogs in Alberta weeks after having 16 dogs seized in Quesnel

B.C. company patents Sasquatch, the country’s first homegrown hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, Sasquatch hops are being grown commercially for the first time in B.C.

Farmers ponder impact of alternatives to pesticides being banned

The nicotine-based pesticides scientists have linked to a rising number of honey bee deaths will be phased out of use in Canada over a three year period starting in 2021.

Time to kick maverick Tory MP Maxime Bernier out of caucus, Scheer urged

Conservative MP Maxime Bernier is taking issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s oft-repeated message of diversity in Canada, calling it a form of “radical multiculturalism.”

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

Two civilians were killed in a shooting in Fredericton that also claimed the lives of two police officers.

2 girls, hand-drawn map in hand, sneak out of B.C. home for adventure

The pair’s escape has transit police reminding commuters to report unusual behaviour

Ex-B.C. teachers’ union leader among latest pipeline protesters to get jail time

Twelve people have been sentenced for violating court order to stay away from Kinder Morgan terminal

B.C. not prepared for a Humboldt Broncos bus crash, group says

An air ambulance advocacy group wants an overhaul of B.C.’s emergency medical system in rural regions

Most Read