Bull sharks take to Louisiana swamp

Published: Jul. 2, 2009 at 3:02 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM CDT
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By Jim Shannon - bio | email

HENDERSON, LA (WAFB) - Bass, catfish, and perch make for a great fish fry down on the bayou, but lately, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has found sharks in inland waters of the Atchafalaya Basin Swamp.

Most people have a preconceived notion that sharks are found in the ocean. While that's certainly true, sharks are also being found among the beautiful cypress trees in the waters of the Atchafalaya. "Well, I guess this is a swamp, shark that lives in the swamp," said Mike Walker with Wildlife and Fisheries. "You could call it a swamp shark."

Walker has pictures of bull sharks that were caught among the inland waters in Louisiana. He says sharks have likely been around these parts for decades. However, they're noticing them more because they now take huge samples of species in different waterways in Louisiana and that's turning up sharks. It's no surprise for long time Atchafalaya swamp tour guide Curtis Allemond. "Oh, I used to catch 'em up on the river when the river's low, yeah (laughs)," he said when asked if he had ever seen any sharks in the swamp.

The bull shark is particularly troubling for Walker, in part due to their natural threatening nature. "They're fairly aggressive sharks. They're probably responsible for the majority of the attacks on human beings." Walker says there are no known inland shark attacks in Louisiana. The bull sharks are not just hanging around the bayous and swamps. They have been caught some 900 miles up the Mississippi River.

"They have been captured in St. Louis. They have traveled 2500 miles up the Amazon. They have some mechanism in their make-up that allows them to process freshwater and not require high salinity to live." It may seem hard to believe that in the deep swamp of Louisiana bull sharks, one of the most dangerous species of shark, are swimming in the swamp.

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