In his 73 years on earth Kugluktuk’s John Kapakatoak had never seen a shark in person. That all changed on Monday morning when a routine check on his seal nets yielded a 6-foot shark that weighed more than 150 pounds.
“When I saw it at first I thought it was a young beluga,” said Kapakatoak. “But when I pulled the rock off and pulled them up with a Honda to see what it is I could see it was a shark.”
“I’ve never seen one before. That’s the first time I’ve seen a shark my whole life.”
The shark was dead by the time Kapakatoak pulled it out along with three seals which he also caught. Unlike the seals which don’t put up much of a fight, the shark was really twisted in his nets from trying to fight its way out.
By the time Kapakatoak reached shore news have travelled throughout the community and more than a hundred people came down to greet him and take pictures with his catch.
Kapakatoak said no one else in Kugluktuk had ever seen a shark in the community.
“I came in and there was lots of people along my boat because people had never seen a shark before,” he said. “I’ve never heard of nobody report a shark before.”
Kapakatoak, who has been hunting and trapping full time since retiring from his job at the hamlet seven years ago, said he immediately took samples of the animal to be sent for testing in Winnipeg.
“I don’t know anything about the shark,” he said.
While he waits to hear back about the shark’s identity, Kapakatoak said his wife plans to use the skin to try and make leather, while he hopes to boil the skull to mount it on his wall.
“I’m going to keep the head with the teeth. They’re really sharp.”