A family enjoying the summer weather along the Tennessee River made an unusual discovery recently when they found a small shark in the water, and it appears the animal didn't make it to the region alone.
The shark, a three-foot-long specimen that appeared to be a spiny dogfish, was found by an unnamed family on Tuesday at Talucah Landing. According to WHNT, they then contacted authorities, and Wildlife Conservation Officer Jay Lowery was dispatched to examine the shark.
"[Tuesday] we had a call that came to our district office - we were kind of a little skeptical at first," he said.
— WHNT (@whnt) June 3, 2015
As soon as Lowery arrived at Talucah Landing, however, it became apparent to him that the animal was indeed a shark. It also became quickly obvious that the shark didn't make its way up the Tennessee River unaided. According to Thom Demas, Curator of Fishes at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, the spiny dogfish shark is not known to venture into freshwater rivers.
Of the many species of shark that populate the world's oceans, only a select few are known to regularly tolerate both fresh and salt water habitats. As the Inquisitr previously reported, bull sharks can do so because several of their organs have evolved to maintain an appropriate balance between salt and water.
While the spiny dogfish shark can be found in a variety of habitats, including along the East Coast of the United States as far south as the Caribbean, the only shark in the region to tolerate freshwater is the bull shark. As Demas pointed out, there is little danger that anyone would misidentify the two shark species.
"There's no way anybody could confuse this little guy we saw the pictures of with a bull shark," he asserted.
Video | Shark found in #Tennessee River http://t.co/cURamCYGqK @BrianBroom #Shark @clarionledger pic.twitter.com/x8Mb4gzS0Z
— Harold Gater (@haroldgater) June 4, 2015
Lowery also noted that one of the shark's gill slits was found to be bleeding. As AL.com reports, he believes that the spiny dogfish shark was collected elsewhere and placed in the river as a kind of prank. Though it is unclear who is responsible for the shark being left in the river, the action could come with criminal charges as it would be considered a misdemeanor.
Despite the discovery of the shark, authorities insist that the Tennessee River remains a safe place to swim.
[Photo by WHNT News 19 via AL.com]