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Hundreds Of Sharks Spotted Taking Refuge In Florida Canals

Claire Reid

| Last updated 

Hundreds Of Sharks Spotted Taking Refuge In Florida Canals

Featured Image Credit: Fox

Hundreds of sharks have been spotted heading inland in West Florida to avoid a toxic red algae. You can see them swimming through canals here:


Numerous species, including nurse sharks and blacktips, have been seen some distance from their usual habitats, swimming through Longboat Key and into canals.

The sharks would normally live in Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay however, these waters have been infested with large amounts of Karenia brevis algae which causes 'red tides'.

The algae can be fatal to marine life, as it produces a toxin that affects their nervous systems.

And it's not just harmful to animals, it can also cause respiratory problems for humans.

Credit: Fox
Credit: Fox

Speaking to WFLA 8 about the influx of sharks, resident John Wagman said: "You saw fins at first, just popping up. Just something I'd never seen in the canal before."

Fellow resident Janelle Branowner told FOX 13 Tampa Bay: "You could literally walk across the canal on the backs of the sharks in the water.

"We don't have healthy water in the bay right now."

A red tide usually occurs on Florida's Gulf Coast about once a year, but experts have warned that climate change warming the waters is causing the algae to flourish meaning its more extreme than in the past.

Mike Heithaus, a shark expert and biological sciences professor at Florida International University told the Guardian: "You just don't normally see sharks piling up like that in these canals, they do go in there but not in the huge numbers that we're seeing reported.

Credit: Fox
Credit: Fox

"We don't know what the trigger might be for those sharks going to those areas, but the changes in the chemistry of the water, the oxygen being pulled out of the water, the toxins, combined with the amount of dead fish around, any of those could cause these big concentrations.

"It's not the kind of thing that you would see if it wasn't a big red tide event."

Heithaus said the sharks should act as a warning that action needs to be taken.

He added: "We really need to start working very hard in Florida on addressing some of the causes of these blooms, too much nutrient getting into the water, and that can come from lots of different sources, so we really need to be working on all of it."

Topics: Sharks, US News, Animals

Claire Reid
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