Fears sharks might be eating cocaine dumped off the Florida coast

Cocaine sharks! Marine biologists warn drug-addled predators might be eating narcotics dumped by smugglers off the Florida coast

  • Bundles of narcotics have often washed up on Florida beaches
  • Marine life expert Tom ‘The Blowfish’ Hird looked into whether sharks in the area have been affected for Discovery’s Shark Week
  • He witnessed several sharks showing strange behavior like approaching humans

Drug-addled sharks may be feasting on cocaine bales dumped by drug smugglers off the coast of Florida, according to marine biologists.

In a new documentary for Discovery’s Shark Week, marine expert Tom Hird looked into whether sharks in the area could have been affected by narcotics which are often hurled into the water by drug smugglers to avoid detection. 

Hird and his team of researchers noticed strange behavior and movement among the sharks and even found that when they dropped a look-alike cocaine package into the water, predators rushed toward and took bites out of it.

Hird and his colleague Tracy Fanara, of the University of Florida, took a dive in the Florida Keys and remarkable footage showed the moment they encountered one great hammerhead, a species usually way of humans, coming straight at them.

‘Our bubbles usually scare hammers off, so coming up on us is unusual behavior,’ Hird said. 

In footage from the new documentary for Discovery’s Shark Week, marine biologist Tom Hird says he notices unusual movement in a hammerhead shark. He suggests that 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 the drugs dumped in their habitat for Discovery’s Shark Week

The shark also appeared to be swimming at a lopsided angle.

‘Looks like she’s slightly on the one side, almost like she’s weighted down, she’s not quite leveled. Now that is unusual,’ the marine biologist added.

Hird said the strange behavior could be have been caused by an injury or ‘maybe a chemical imbalance.’

The scientists also studied a sandbar shark that appeared to be fixated by something and was swimming in tight circles – despite there being nothing in sight.

Hird and Fanara also created packages to look like real cocaine bales and dropped them in the water from a helicopter.

The sharks were then seen heading straight to the packages and taking bites.

One shark even grabbed one and swam off with it, according to the documentary first reported by Live Science.

‘The deeper story here is the way that chemicals, pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs are entering our waterways – entering our oceans – and what effect that they then could go on to have on these delicate ocean ecosystems,’ Hird told Live Science. 

Hird said that there was no way to tell how sharks would behave if they had indeed ingested cocaine because marine life reacts differently to the chemical.

‘The other thing we might find is actually this long flow, [this] drip of pharmaceuticals: caffeine, lidocaine, cocaine, amphetamine, antidepressants, birth control — this long slow drift of them from cities into the [ocean] is… starting to hit these animals,’ he added. 

U.S. Coast Guard personnel and members of the media walk among wrapped packages of cocaine and marijuana on the deck of the Cutter James before offloading them at Port Everglades on February 17, 2022 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Last October, a Florida resident stumbled across a bundle of cocaine on Daytona Beach.

Miami Border Patrol agents say they recovered the 11-pound bag after somebody notified authorities they had seen it washed up on the beach in Volusia County. 

Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar of the Border Patrol’s Miami Sector, which is responsible for managing 1,200 miles of coastal border, estimated that the seized drugs had a value of $150,000.

Last July, Monroe County Sherriff’s Office were notified of a bundle of what was suspected to be cocaine among the mangroves in Tavernier on the Florida Keys.

The package weighed 72 pounds.

Cocaine Sharks airs on the Discovery Channel at 10pm ET on July 26.

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