A dead shark, measuring about 10 feet long, has washed up on the shores of Hornby Island in British Columbia.
Ian Welsh was walking on the beach near Phipps Point 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 shark and guessed it to be 10 feet long.
"It was pretty amazing to see that. Absolutely amazing, I was in awe," he said during an interview with Glacier Media. "It was quite large; it was pretty big."
Kate Fleming also spotted the shark and describes it as 'huge' and witnessing it as pretty amazing.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirms the find 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 (DFO), believes the shark washing up allows the public to learn more about sharks in B.C. waters.
"The Salish Sea has so many species in it that people never see, a group of which are sharks, and I think people are surprised to learn that there are sharks in British Columbia waters, and not just one species or two species," King said.
B.C. has 14 recorded species of sharks, a handful of which can be found in the Salish Sea.
"I like this opportunity because it awakens people to the world that they don't know is there and connects them with something that they don't imagine," King said.
"They are not mindless killing machines of the movies, those movies are fun to watch, but they do a great disservice to the reputation of sharks as a whole," King said, adding that they're typically not interested in humans. "They are not attacking humans," she said.
Sixgill 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.
Jackie Hildering with the Marine Education and Research Society, a conservation charity, was in awe when she saw the most recent shark.
"It's so heartening to see what the public response is. 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."
She notes this giant shark was believed to be a maximum size of 4.8 metres and believes it was a pregnant female.
"Seeing the sharks, oh my god, the beauty of them," Hildering said. "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 DFO states that animals washing up, like the shark, is not uncommon or concerning.
The shark is believed to have washed up on the shore as early as April 29. King says it was too late to collect and sample the carcass by the time she got the report.
"It had already been gutted, or I guess, preyed upon," she said.
Removing the carcass will fall on the municipality, she noted.
King hopes that people report sharks and shark sightings to the DFO's website, which can be viewed here.