A lucky photographer managed to capture a startling interaction between two predators in Florida, as he spied a bobcat pouncing into the surf after a shark, before it pulled the thrashing fish out of the water.
The unusual image was captured on Monday at Sebastian Inlet State Park in Vero Beach, according to First Coast News. Photographer John Bailey was walking along the surf in the evening when he spied the bobcat intently focused on something in the water. Upon closer inspection, Bailey was able to determine that the bobcat was watching a four-foot-long shark as it preyed upon smaller fish in the shallows.
What happened next was nothing short of astonishing, according to the photographer. With little warning, the bobcat sprang into the sea, grabbing the shark in its jaws and pulling the struggling predator ashore. The bobcat’s victory was short lived, however, as Bailey believes he startled the animal, causing it to drop the shark on the sand and retreat into a nearby forest.
What would be more shocking? A four foot shark near Vero Beach or the bobcat that fished it out of the water? Yikes. pic.twitter.com/wNcITsjkKc
— Meagan Harris (@MeaganMHarris) April 7, 2015
As WFLA points out, Bailey’s image has sparked controversy among observers, with some expressing suspicion that it may have been Photoshopped. According to Liz Barraco, an official with the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission, however, the behavior exhibited by the bobcat is perfectly normal for a predatory cat of its size.
“There is no reason to believe it’s fake,” she noted.
Bobcats aren’t considered overly aggressive, and wildlife experts pointed out that the species is far from uncommon along Florida beaches. Despite this fact, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Animal Care Director Amy Kight expressed her surprise that Bailey was able to capture the predator in action, according to WPTV.
“My first reaction was amazement that somebody actually took that picture because bobcats are generally very, very reclusive. You don’t really see them out and about too often.”
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) April 4, 2015
In recent weeks, large schools of sharks have been repeatedly sighted off Florida beaches. As the Inquisitr previously noted, the predators have begun their yearly migration, moving into warming waters as summer approaches. As a result, large groups of both blacktip and spinner sharks have been photographed moving together, both in the Gulf of Mexico and along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Last month, oil workers off the Louisiana coast managed to film a particularly large school of sharks as the animals moved past a rig located roughly 30 miles from land.
Wildlife officials also theorized that the bobcat may have been a female, and that it may have intended the shark to be a meal for its offspring.
[Image: John Bailey via First Coast News]