Basking shark in Sandy Cove herring weir

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on August 2, 2012

Stanley Stanton has caught almost as much basking shark this year as he has herring.

The fisherman from Whale Cove fishes the weir in Sandy Cove and twice this year he has caught about 8,000 pounds of basking shark.

The first time was a couple weeks ago and Stanton says they seined up the 9-metre fish and released it without a problem. Except they lost all the herring and mackerel in the weir as well.

So he knew what to expect when one of his crew, James Marshall called Tuesday night, July 31.

“He said I’ve got good news and bad news,” says Stanton. “There’s some mackerel in the weir, and that damn shark is back in there too.”

Stanton and his crew went out to the weir around 6 a.m. the next morning, Wednesday, Aug. 1 and began to seine in the large fish.

Stanton says this time the basking shark made a sharp turn in the net and got his head tangled up in the twine.

Stanton and his crew were unable to get the shark untangled even after securing its tail to keep it from flapping around too much.

The shark was pulling the 11-metre seine boat right over to the point Stanton was worried they would capsize.

“He had the washboard right down to the water,” says Stanton. “Any farther and I figured the water was going to start coming in. I said boys we’ve got to take him up on the beach where we can handle him.”

They grounded the shark and the seine boat and then tried to free the shark from the net.

“But that was the end of him, there wasn’t much we could do for him after that.”

The shark’s body was floating in the cove the next morning but Stanton and his crew plan to tow it outside on the ebb tide that afternoon.

“It’s a shame,” says Stanton. “Judging by the size of him, he’s been around a long time.”

Basking sharks are the second largest fish in the sea after the whale shark. On average the adults measure 6-8m in length. According to Wikipedia, the largest basking shark ever recorded, 12.27 m, was also caught in a herring weir on the Bay of Fundy in 1851.

Whales however are much larger. Humpbacks normally range from 12- 16 m in length while blue whales, the largest animal ever, can measure up to 30 m (100’) in length.

Another basking shark measuring just over 8.5 m washed up in Gulliver’s Cove in late November 2006.

Largest animal ever: Blue Whale—30m and 190 tonnes

Fin whales—27m


Largest fish: Whale shark—13.6m

Basking shark—12m

Largest living land animal: African bush elephant—10.6m long,

Minke whales—8m

Tallest living land animal: Giraffe—5.8m