A Florida resident’s backyard turned into a scene from “Jaws” in the wake of Hurricane Ian, when what appeared to be a shark was spotted swimming around some water-inundated grass near a home, according to a new viral video.
The clip of the mystery beast — which locals have dubbed the “street shark” — showed a creature with a tell-tale dorsal fin thrashing around the flooded property in Fort Myers on Wednesday as the Category 4 storm blew through.
En 24 hours it had amassed over 12 million views on Twitter as users responded with a mix of astonishment and incredulity due to long-running hoaxes about creatures swimming though suburban floodwaters.
Local real estate developer Dominic Cameratta said he had been shooting video the previous morning when he saw something “flopping around” in his neighbor’s inundated yard.
“I didn’t know what it was — it just looked like a fish or something, I zoomed in, and all my friends are like, ‘It’s like a shark, Roll Salón de la Fama!’ ” he told the news outlet about the fish, which he estimated to be about 4 un pie de largo.
A visual analysis of nearby property confirmed it matches the landmarks in the clip. But although the authenticity of the footage was confirmed, experts were divided about what kind of fish was seen.
George Burgess, former director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark program said it “appears to be a juvenile shark.”
Él continuó: “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.
“Assuming the location and date attributes are correct, it is likely this shark was swept shoreward with the rising seas,” Burgess added.
But Neil Hammerschlag, director of the University of Miami’s shark conservation program, was less convinced, writing that “it’s pretty hard to tell.”
Leslie Guelcher, a professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pensilvania, initially believed the footage was a hoax.
“Don’t think this is real. According to the index on the video it was created in June 2010. Someone else posted it at 10 AM as in Fort Myers, but the storm surge wasn’t like that at 10 SOY,” she said in a tweet Wednesday.
But she later acknowledged that online tools she and others used to determine the video’s origins didn’t actually show when it was actually created, merely when the social media profile of the user was created.
It was later confirmed through the original clip’s metadata that it was recorded early Wednesday.
“It makes a bit more sense from a flooding standpoint,” Guelcher told the news service by email, when informed the fish was spotted near an overflowing pond.
“But how on earth would a shark go from the Gulf of Mexico to a retention pond?” she wondered.
Marine biologist and shark expert Yannis Papastamatiou of Florida International University said that most sharks flee shallow bays ahead of hurricanes and that one could have accidentally ended up in the creek.
Skepticism about shark sightings during natural disasters is a byproduct of various memes from previous storms.
En 2017, a Twitter user posted a fake image of a shark swimming down a street in Houston during Hurricane Harvey — and in 2020, a photo of a shark swimming down a freeway during Hurricane Laura in Louisiana also was determined to be fake.