Great White Shark
Photo by Michael Rutzen via Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Climate change could soon bring “Shark Week” off of TV and into the coastal waters of BC.

According to William Cheung, an associate professor at the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries at UBC, “there could be [new shark species arriving] in B.C. waters if we maintain at the status quo and do not mitigate carbon emissions.”

“We found that climate change will cause an expansion of the range of great white shark to northern temperature areas, including the offshore waters of the northeast Pacific, which includes BC,” he said.

When will the great whites get here?

Great White Shark
Getty Images

Cheung didn’t give an exact estimate for the arrival of the great whites. He only explained that their habitat range will expand more frequently in coming decades. “Ocean temperature in the Pacific fluctuates, with some years warmer than others,” he said. “During the warmer years, sightings of warm-water sharks, like great whites, [will] increase.”

“Ocean temperature in the Pacific fluctuates, with some years warmer than others,” he said. “During the warmer years, sightings of warm-water sharks, like great whites, [will] increase.”

But the expansion of range doesn’t necessarily mean good things for sharks overall. In fact, as ocean temperatures warm, tropical shark populations are expected to decline, with many species risking extinction as their home waters become inhospitably hot.

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