Internet’s Fears Come to Life As Shark Swims Through Florida Streets Post Hurricane Ian: VIDEO

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, as Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc in Florida, one man captured what many thought was another internet hoax – a shark swimming in the streets of Fort Myers. Severe storms and inclement weather have led to heavy flooding in the Fort Myers region. What was originally thought to be another fake video turned out to be very real as the huge fish swam through the streets of a local neighborhood.

Real estate developer Dominic Cameratta captured the clip of the shark from his back patio on Wednesday morning. His cell phone-shot video has since gone viral online racking up over 12 million views on Twitter alone within 24 hours.

Many social media users couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Others compared the scene to the campy Sharknado film series. Cameratta spoke to the The Associated Press and said he started filming when he noticed something “flopping around” across the street in his neighbor’s flooded yard due to Hurricane Ian.

“I didn’t know what it was — it just looked like a fish or something,” Cameratta told the outlet. “I zoomed in, and all my friends are like, ‘It’s like a shark, man!'”

It didn’t take long for Cameratta to realize he was videoing a rare sight indeed. Although he couldn’t identify the shark at first glance, he estimated that the large fish measured around 4 feet in length.

Marine Experts Weigh In on the Hurricane Ian ‘Street Shark’

As Cameratta’s video made the rounds online, every major news outlet covered the shocking clip, including the New York Times and Fortune. Yet experts had mixed opinions on whether the sea creature in question during Hurricane Ian was a shark or another large fish.

Former director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark program George Burgess spoke with Fortune. He said it “appears to be a juvenile shark.” However, Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, director of the University of Miami’s shark conservation program, also talked to the outlet by email. He was less certain when writing that “it’s pretty hard to tell.” Regardless, Twitter users had already made up their mind as they deemed the animal “street shark” online.

Cameratta didn’t speak to the AP until Wednesday evening. By the time he did, he said Hurricane Ian’s flooded waters were “all the way up to our house.” He assumes the shark came by way of nearby Hendry Creek into a retention pond that overflowed.

George Burgess spoke further with Fortune saying that most sharks flee shallow bays as hurricanes come inland. He confirmed that a shark could’ve accidentally swam into the creek or washed into it.

“Young bull sharks are common inhabitants of low salinity waters — rivers, estuaries, subtropical embayments — and often appear in similar videos in [Florida] water bodies connected to the sea such as coastal canals and ponds,” Burgess said. “Assuming the location and date attributes are correct, it is likely this shark was swept shoreward with the rising seas.”