Monday, May 17, 2010

Bull Shark Found in the Ohio River Near Olmstead, Illinois

wlwt - A commercial fisherman said he found a shark in the Ohio River.

The fisherman found the two-foot bull shark already dead on a boat ramp Thursday morning in Olmsted, Ill. It appeared the shark washed up after flood waters receded.

Bull sharks can survive in fresh water and have been known to travel up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico.

"(It's) pretty much the only species that can get that far up river," said Chris Pierson, director of husbandry at the Newport Aquarium.

But Pierson said it's unlikely that this shark swam all the way to Illinois.

"My guess with this shark, it probably didn't swim up there. It was probably left there," Pierson said.

As for the potential for attacks, Pierson said you shouldn't worry too much about it.

"Stories of people being attacked by bull sharks in rivers are very unusual," he said. However, "The story that started 'Jaws' happened in 1916. And it was all based on facts of people being attacked by a shark in a river in New Jersey. It probably wasn't a great white shark. It was probably a bull shark."

But Friday afternoon, Tony Gerard, a biology professor at Shawnee Community College, said he physically observed the shark Thursday and said it is a spiny dogfish shark.

Gerard told KFVS-TV that it was more likely that a boat worker caught it in the Gulf of Mexico and dumped it in the Ohio River. He said the fin was cut off, which is common in the Gulf where people catch them and cut them off to avoid injury.

Gerard told the station that this is not a freshwater-tolerant shark and if it were alive at some point in the Ohio River, it would be the first time he knows of this type of shark living in the area.

Bull Shark Found in the Ohio River Near Olmstead, Illinois


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