Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Video: 'Absolutely amazing' 10-foot shark washes up on Hornby Island

A man walking along the beach discovered the bluntnose sixgill shark.

Ian Welsh was walking on the beach near Phipps Point on Hornby Island at about noon on May 2 when he thought he spotted a log on the shore. 

“I could see it from quite a distance,” he said. “But then I got closer, and it was a shark.” 

Taking out his phone, he snapped a few images of the dead shark, which he estimated to be 10 feet long. 

“It was pretty amazing to see that. Absolutely amazing, I was in awe,” he said. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the shark Welsh found was a bluntnose sixgill shark. 

Dr. Jackie King, a research scientist at the Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, says the fact that there are sharks in B.C. waters — and more than one species — may come as a surprise to some. “The Salish Sea has so many species in it that people never see.” 

B.C. has 14 recorded species of sharks, a handful of which can be found in the Salish Sea. 

When a marine creature like the dead shark washes up, it “awakens people to the world that they don’t know is there and connects them with something that they don’t imagine,” said King. 

She said the depiction of sharks in movies does a “great disservice” to the reputation of sharks as a whole 

“They are not mindless killing machines of the movies,” said King, noting that sharks are typically not interested in humans. “They are not attacking humans.” 

Sixgill sharks are often lethargic and can be seen by scuba divers in the deep water off Hornby Island, usually about one to one and a half kilometres off the coast. Juveniles can be found in more shallow depths. 

In 2019, a shark washed up on the shores of Coles Bay near Victoria International Airport.  

Jackie Hildering with the Marine Education and Research Society, a conservation charity, said she was heartened by public response to the dead shark, which she believes was a pregnant female. 

“There isn’t this vilification of sharks. It is the shared awe that these are in our waters,” Hildering said. “There is so much we don’t know about this rich water.” 

Hildering said she is struck by the beauty of sharks. “The grace, that amazing tail, but also the beauty of those emerald green eyes… like what an extraordinary thing to be able to see them.” 

The shark is believed to have washed up as early as April 29. King says it was too late to sample the carcass by the time she got the report, since it had already been preyed upon. 

Removing the carcass will fall on the municipality, she noted. 

King hopes that people report sharks and shark sightings to DFO’s website