Cocaine sharks! Marine biologists warn drug-addicted predators could be eating narcotics dumped by smugglers off the Florida coast
- Packages of narcotics have often washed up on Florida beaches
- Marine life expert Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird investigated whether sharks in the area have been affected by Discovery’s Shark Week
- He witnessed several sharks displaying strange behavior such as approaching humans.
Drugged sharks may be feasting on bales of cocaine dumped by drug dealers off the Florida coast, according to marine biologists.
In a new documentary for Discovery’s Shark Week, marine expert Tom Hird explored whether sharks in the area might have been affected by narcotics that drug dealers often dump into the water to avoid detection.
Hird and his team of researchers noticed strange behavior and movement among the sharks and even found that when a cocaine-like packet was dropped into the water, predators would rush at it and bite it.
Hird and his colleague Tracy Fanara, from the University of Florida, dove in the Florida Keys and remarkable footage showed the moment they encountered a great hammerhead shark, a generally human-like species, coming straight for them.
“Our bubbles generally scare hammerheads, so coming close to us is unusual behavior,” Hird said.
In footage from Discovery’s new documentary Shark Week, marine biologist Tom Hird says he notices unusual movement in a hammerhead shark. He suggests it could be caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’
Marine life expert Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird (pictured) studied whether sharks in the area have been affected by drugs dumped in their habitat for Discovery’s Shark Week
The shark also appeared to be swimming at a crooked angle.
‘It looks like it’s slightly on its side, almost like it’s weighed down, it’s not quite level. Now that’s unusual,” added the marine biologist.
Hird said the strange behavior could have been caused by injury or “maybe a chemical imbalance.”
The scientists also studied a sandbar shark that seemed to be obsessed with something and swam in tight circles, even though there was nothing in sight.
Hird and Fanara also created packages that looked like real cocaine bales and dropped them into the water from a helicopter.
The sharks were then seen heading straight for the packages and biting.
A shark even grabbed one and swam away with it, according to the documentary first reported by living science.
“The deeper story here is how chemicals, pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs get into our waterways, get into our oceans, and what effect they could have on these delicate ocean ecosystems,” Hird told Live Science.
Hird said there was no way to know how the sharks would behave if they had in fact ingested cocaine because marine life reacts differently to the chemical.
‘The other thing we might find is actually this long stream, [this] drip of pharmaceuticals: caffeine, lidocaine, cocaine, amphetamine, antidepressants, birth control: this long, slow shift from cities to the [ocean] is… starting to hit these animals,” he added.
US Coast Guard personnel and members of the media walk among wrapped packages of cocaine and marijuana on the deck of the Cutter James before unloading at Port Everglades on February 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Last October, a Florida resident stumbled across a package of cocaine in Daytona Beach.
Miami Border Patrol agents say they recovered the 11-pound bag after someone notified authorities that they had seen it washed up on a Volusia County beach.
Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar of Border Patrol’s Miami Sector, which is responsible for managing 1,200 miles of the coastal border, estimated the seized drugs were worth $150,000.
Last July, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a package of what was suspected to be cocaine among the mangroves at Tavernier in the Florida Keys.
The package weighed 72 pounds.
Cocaine Sharks airs on the Discovery Channel at 10 p.m. ET on July 26.