An angler in Florida photographed a rare encounter between a bull shark and an alligator while fishing on the banks of the St. Lucie River over Memorial Day Weekend.
David Zinn was fishing the St. Lucie with his stepfather when he hooked into something strong that Saturday afternoon. He figured it was a shark of some kind, and saw soon enough that it was a small bull shark. But when he tried to land the shark, reeling it up on the rocks close to shore, a five-foot alligator suddenly appeared out of the depths of the river, hunting for its next meal.
“So, I land a bull shark, get it to shore. Then out of nowhere, a 5-foot gator comes up and try’s to eat the shark,” Zinn wrote in a Facebook post.
The alligator stopped short of attacking the shark, and a video that Zinn recorded shows the bull shark narrowly escaping the encounter and disappearing into the river while the alligator sticks around for a few more minutes.
“I think [the alligator] realized last second, like, ‘Oh, that thing has teeth, too.’ I better not,” Zinn told WPTV news.
Although the encounter was a rare phenomenon, Florida wildlife officials say it’s a reminder of the presence of both species in rivers throughout the state. Bull sharks are known to frequent freshwater environments, and they’ve been observed traveling hundreds of miles upriver from the ocean. Alligators, meanwhile, are very common in freshwater habitats throughout Florida.
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“Both the sharks and the alligators are fairly dangerous to humans, and so if you’re in the water with either one of them, you could get into a lot of problems,” said Zinn.
Bull sharks with a fork length larger than 54 inches can be harvested under Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) regulations. The current bag limit is one bull shark per day. Regulations also require anglers targeting sharks from the shore to obtain a special permit from the FWC.