Bull sharks caught in Tampa river shock some, but should it?

Some fishermen in Tampa were shocked at landing four baby bull sharks from the Hillsborough River and the news report about it apparently was a surprise to others, too.

“Most people would never expect to find sharks over here in the Hillsborough River, but experts at the Florida Aquarium say it might be far more common than you think,” is how WFTS reporter Lauren Rozyla began her story:

While some of the fishermen were surprised, angler Alex Morris told WFTS that there are “hundreds of baby bull sharks and black tips” in the Hillsborough River and that “they get about 7 foot out here.”

In the report, Eric Hovland of the aquarium confirmed what many already knew. Bull sharks can survive in freshwater and have been spotted as far north as Illinois in the Mississippi River.

Bull sharks give birth to four to 10 pups in rivers where they are free to grow up without worrying about predators. This happens in rivers all over the world.

Incidentally, bull sharks are said to be responsible for the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 with two fatal bites occurring in freshwater. The incident inspired the novel Jaws.

Of course, not everybody was shocked by the latest news. Many Tampa residents reacted with a yawn, as evidenced by comments on the WFTS Facebook page.

“Shocked??” wrote Mark Simon. “Tampa Bay is one of the most shark infested bodies of water in the world.”

“This is old news,” Katie Boldizar wrote. “It’s brackish water. I believe there was a 12ft bull shark caught in the bay at some point. Jeremy from River Monsters caught a sizeable bull shark as well when he did an episode here.”

“Are they new to FL?” Cortney Adkins wrote. “I thought everyone knew bull sharks birth their pups in freshwater to avoid being eaten. And they can survive for up to 3 years.”

So, it would behoove those who think rivers in Florida are safe to be cautious. If it’s not sharks to be watchful for, it could be alligators.

Read more about bull sharks on GrindTV

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