Shark Swimming in Streets After Hurricane Ian Raises Questions. "It Was Terrifying!"
This one's not a hoax.
Hurricane Ian's trip through Florida last weekend left some pretty shocking sights in its wake. But not even the most jaded storm watcher could've expected to see a shark swimming in a flooded suburban backyard. That's what one man spotted at his neighbor's place as the storm wore on. Read on to find out more about what he saw, what experts say, and why the sighting created a scary decision for himself and his family.
The Associated Press reported last week that post-storm photos and footage of sharks in areas outside their natural habitat have made for viral hoaxes in the past, but this case appears to be legit. Video showing a large, dark fish with dorsal fins thrashing around in a Ft. Myers backyard attracted more than 12 million views on Twitter within a day. Some commenters took to calling it a "street shark." Keep reading to learn more and see the video.
Local real estate developer Dominic Cameratta told the AP he filmed the clip from his back patio on Wednesday morning. He pulled out his camera when he noticed something "flopping around" in his neighbor's flooded yard. "I didn't know what it was — it just looked like a fish or something," he said. "I zoomed in, and all my friends are like, 'It's like a shark, man!'" He estimated it was about four feet long.
"The way it was swimming was scary. It was moving side to side," Cameratta told People.com. His 15-year-old daughter called the sight "terrifying."
Not every expert is certain the creature in Cameratta's clip is a shark. George Burgess, former director of the Florida Museum of Natural History's shark program, told the AP it "appears to be a juvenile shark," while Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, director of the University of Miami's shark conservation program, said "it's pretty hard to tell."
Sharks tend to flee shallower areas of water before hurricanes, possibly responding to a change in barometric pressure. The shark could have swum or been washed into a nearby creek, which could have deposited it in a nearby yard when the water rose. "Young bull sharks are common inhabitants of low salinity waters — rivers, estuaries, subtropical embayments — and often appear in similar videos in FL water bodies connected to the sea such as coastal canals and ponds," said Burgess. "Assuming the location and date attributes are correct, it is likely this shark was swept shoreward with the rising seas."
Cameratta and his family were faced with a difficult decision. They live in a one-story home, and when the waters rose, "Do you go to the roof? Do we go to our neighbors who were inviting us to come over if we needed to go to their second story?" he told People.com. "But then you have to go through this water that you literally know a shark is probably in it, not to mention all the snakes, and the current. It's crazy." The family ultimately rode out the storm at home.