Hurricane Ian ‘street shark’ video defies belief

Sep 29, 2022, 4:24 PM | Updated: 4:42 pm

Photos and videos of sharks and other marine life swimming in suburban floodwaters make for popular hoaxes during massive storms. But a cellphone video filmed during Hurricane Ian’s assault on southwest Florida isn’t just another fish story.

The eye-popping video, which showed a large, dark fish with sharp dorsal fins thrashing around an inundated Fort Myers backyard, racked up more than 12 million views on Twitter within a day, as users responded with disbelief and comparisons to the “Sharknado” film series.

Dominic Cameratta, a local real estate developer, confirmed he filmed the clip from his back patio Wednesday morning when he saw something “flopping around” in his neighbor’s flooded yard.

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

He guessed the fish was about 4 feet in length.

Experts were of mixed opinion on whether the clip showed a shark or another large fish. George Burgess, former director of the Florida Museum of Natural History’s shark program, said in an email that it “appears to be a juvenile shark,” while Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, director of the University of Miami’s shark conservation program, wrote that “it’s pretty hard to tell.”

Nevertheless, some Twitter users dubbed the hapless fish the “street shark.”

The surge worsened in Fort Myers as the day went on. Cameratta said the flooding had only just begun when the clip was taken, but that the waters were “all the way up to our house” by the time the AP reached him by phone Wednesday evening.

He said the fish may have made its way up from nearby Hendry Creek into a retention pond, which then overflowed, spilling the creature into his neighbor’s backyard. A visual analysis of nearby property confirmed it matches the physical landmarks in the video.

Leslie Guelcher, a professor of intelligence studies at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, was among the online sleuths who initially thought the video was fake.

“Don’t think this is real. According to the index on the video it was created in June 2010. Someone else posted it at 10 AM as in Fort Myers, but the storm surge wasn’t like that at 10 AM,” she tweeted Wednesday.

Guelcher acknowledged later, though, that online tools she and others were using to establish the video’s origins didn’t actually show when the video itself was created, merely when the social media profile of the user was created.

The AP confirmed through the original clip’s metadata that it was captured Wednesday morning.

“It makes a bit more sense from a flooding standpoint,” she said by email, when informed the fish was spotted near an overflowing pond. “But how on earth would a shark go from the Gulf of Mexico to a retention pond?”

Yannis Papastamatiou, a marine biologist who studies shark behavior at Florida International University, said that most sharks flee shallow bays ahead of hurricanes, possibly tipped off to their arrival by a change in barometric pressure. A shark could have accidentally swum up into the creek, he said, or been washed into it.

“Young bull sharks are common inhabitants of low salinity waters — rivers, estuaries, subtropical embayments — and often appear in similar videos in FL 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.”

Cameratta sent the video to a group chat on WhatsApp on Wednesday morning, according to his friend John Paul Murray, who sent the AP a timestamped screenshot.

“Amazing content,” Murray wrote in reply.

___

Associated Press writers Philip Marcelo and Arijeta Lajka in New York contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Mauna Loa is seen from the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area off Saddle Road on the Big Island of Hawa...
Associated Press

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa starts to erupt, sending ash nearby

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, has started to erupt, prompting volcanic ash and debris to fall nearby, authorities said Monday. The eruption began late Sunday night in the summit caldera of the volcano on the Big Island, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Early Monday, it said lava flows were […]
6 hours ago
FILE - This image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) sho...
Associated Press

WHO renames monkeypox as mpox, citing racism concerns

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization has renamed monkeypox as mpox, citing concerns the original name of the decades-old animal disease could be construed as discriminatory and racist. The U.N. health agency said in a statement Monday that mpox was its new preferred name for monkeypox, saying that both monkeypox and mpox would be […]
6 hours ago
Associated Press

Kimberly Palmer: Holiday survival tips from 5 financial pros

For Ryan Decker, surviving the holiday shopping season is all about planning ahead. In fact, if he sees a gift for one of his two young sons in March, he’ll go ahead and buy it, instead of rushing through his shopping list in December. “It very much eases the burden,” he says, making his December […]
6 hours ago
Elderly residents are evacuated by a local organization from the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine,...
Associated Press

Ukraine on edge for more attacks, West eyes humanitarian aid

KYIV (AP) — Ukraine prepared for more Russian strikes on Monday and warned of the possibility for a new round of evacuations from the capital during a relative lull from the airstrikes on energy facilities and other key infrastructure in recent weeks. In the West, meanwhile, preparations were stepped up to boost humanitarian aid to […]
6 hours ago
Wreaths hang on the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Pho...
Associated Press

‘We the People’ is the White House’s theme for the holidays

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drawing decorating inspiration from America’s founding documents, Jill Biden chose a “We the People” theme to deck the White House halls and to remind Americans of what unites them throughout the year, especially during the holidays. Journalists were given a sneak peek early Monday before the first lady was to unveil the […]
6 hours ago
FILE - Holding cells are visible in a basement of a police station that was used by Russian forces ...
Associated Press

Biden boosts US effort to stem sexual violence in war zones

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is strengthening U.S. policy aimed at stemming sexual violence in war conflict zones, elevating the problem — increasingly documented in Ukraine and elsewhere — to the level of a possible serious human rights abuse that triggers sanctions and other actions against foreign perpetrators. Biden, a Democrat, on Monday will […]
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Hurricane Ian ‘street shark’ video defies belief