A viral video showed what appeared to be a shark stranded in a flooded Florida backyard during Hurricane Ian.
Years of “hurricane shark” hoaxes left people skeptical about whether the video was real.
The AP confirmed the authenticity of the video, although there are still doubts that the big fish was actually a shark.
A viral video captured a quirky sea creature roaming a Fort Myers backyard after Hurricane Ian ravaged southwestern Florida with high winds and flooding.
A decade of previous “hurricane shark” hoaxes in which people mounted sharks on flooded highways and metro stations cast doubt on that Hurricane Ian’s shark video was real.
But more than 13.5 million views later, the Associated Press analyzed the video and confirmed that the video had not been tampered with and that it was taken Wednesday morning when Ian made landfall in the Sunshine State.
“I didn’t know what it was — it just looked like a fish or something,” Dominic Cameratta, the Florida resident who shot the video, told The Associated Press. “I zoomed in and all my friends said, ‘It’s like a shark, man!'”
Cameratta, a local real estate developer living in Fort Myers, Florida, estimated the sea creature to be about four feet in length and may have swum from the ocean through a creek to a nearby retention pond. By the time he took the video, the pond was overflowing with hurricane-driven flooding, forcing the “shark” into his neighbor’s backyard.
Experts are still hesitant to call the animal a shark based on the video alone, but given the creature’s size and the dorsal fins that protrude above the water’s surface, George Burgess, former director of the shark program at the Florida Museum of Natural History, said. , to the AP that it “appears to be a juvenile shark.”
“Young bull sharks are common inhabitants of low-salinity waters — rivers, estuaries, subtropical inlets — and often appear in similar videos in marine-connected FL water bodies, such as coastal channels and ponds,” Burgess told the AP. “Assuming the location and date attributes are correct, it is likely that this shark was swept to shore with the rising seas.”
Other experts weren’t quite ready to classify the large aquatic animal as a shark. dr. Neil Hammerschlag, director of the shark conservation program at the University of Miami, told the AP it was “pretty hard to tell” and Leslie Guelcher, a professor at Mercyhurst University, was also initially skeptical of the authenticity of the video.
“It makes a bit more sense from a flood perspective,” she told the AP in an email. “But how on earth would a shark get from the Gulf of Mexico to a retention pond?”
Research shows sharks can sense the change in barometric pressure ahead of major storms, including hurricanes, according to Shark Angels, an environmental organization dedicated to shark conservation, which could explain why the Fort Myers shark was forced to enter the creek. swim up to maintain the pond retention.
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