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Close encounter of the shark kind

By Charlotte Tarver--Three people had an exciting-and close¬ encounter with a shark Monday afternoon in the Tlell River, about a kilometer from its mouth."We were fishing and saw a fin come out of the water," said Gerry Whittle of Tlell. "It swam back and forth, then beached itself in the shallows. It was quite docile and I touched its back. It had a sandpapery feel around its head and was smooth towards the tail."Mr. Whittle, Katy Fulton and Adam MacMullin were on the river bank when they spotted it. It was between 4 and 5 feet long, and the tide was at high slack, about 3 in the afternoon. After Mr. Whittle touched the shark, it swam farther out into the river. The three got in a canoe and paddled out to the slow-moving shark but when it swam under the canoe, they quickly returned to shore. Mr. Whittle then walked waist-deep into the water where he touched the shark again and took an underwater photo."Its the first live shark I've seen," said Mr. MacMullin of Queen Charlotte. "I didn't want to touch it as it had a lot of teeth.""It is more than likely a soup-fin shark, as at this time of year they are sighted behaving erratically and end up on the beaches here," said biologist Leandre Vineault of Tlell. "The Hecate Strait is the northern part of its range." Monday's shark lazily swam around for a while than went out on the falling tide.