Canada's Sharks and Turtles

Canada is lucky to host some of the most rare and unique sharks in the world. Most people are surprised to find out that 21 species of shark spend at least part of their lives in our cold Atlantic and Arctic waters. It’s notjust terrestrial wildlife that Canadians should celebrate!

The waters off the coast of Canada are home to many different types of sharks

  • We are often visited by basking shark, which uses its large mouth to scoop up tiny plankton and invertebrates much like a whale. It’s the second largest shark in the world.
  • Our waters are also home to one of the world’s smallest sharks, the spiny dogfish, which gets its name from the mildly poisonous spine on its back.
  • The mysterious Greenland shark is also found our waters, though they prefer to hang out in the cold, dark depths. Maybe they’re embarrassed to be seen with the copepods attached to their eyes!

Hector is a ‘pelagic’ blue shark, meaning that he spends most of his time at the top of the water column. He most frequently sees other pelagic species like the endangered porbeagle shark and shortfin mako shark. He also spots the occasional loggerhead turtle and, even more rarely, critically endangered leatherback turtles.

Of the reported 21 species of shark found in Canada, close to half are considered to be globally threatened with extinction (e.g. ‘vulnerable’, ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’) by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assessment.  


For more information:
Blue Sharks | Porbeagle Sharks | Shortfin Mako Sharks
Leatherback Sea Turtle | Loggerhead Sea Turtle