Just when you thought it might be safe to go in the water – up pops a nightmare scenario!
Sharks lurking off of Florida’s coast may be eating bundles of cocaine dumped in the ocean by US-bound drug smugglers — and scientists want to find out.
With the massive amounts of drugs washing up on beaches and being pulled out of the ocean by authorities each year, marine biologist Tom Hird wanted to investigate whether or not sharks had ingested cocaine as part of a new TV series “Cocaine Sharks” — which will premiere during Discovery Channel’s beloved “Shark Week” next week.
Cocaine Sharks will premiere on the Discovery Channel on Wednesday, July 26, at 10/9c.
In the program, Hird and University of Florida environmental scientist Tracy Fanara conduct a number of experiments on sharks off the Florida Keys, where fishermen have reportedly told tales about drug-addicted fish.
Hird and Fanara set their sights on the Florida Keys, where fishers tell stories of sharks consuming drugs that have been funneled into the region on ocean currents. In the show, they dive with sharks to look for any unusual behaviors and begin to see sharks acting in unexpected ways. One great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) — a species that’s normally wary of people — comes straight at the team and appears to be swimming with a wonk. At a shipwreck 60 feet (18 meters) beneath the surface, Hird encounters a sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus) that appears to be fixated on something and swims in tight circles, despite there being nothing in sight.
“The deeper story here is the way that chemicals, pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs are entering our waterways — entering our oceans — and what effect that they then could go on to have on these delicate ocean ecosystems,” Hird told Live Science.
Cocaine Sharks will feature in the TV schedule for Shark Week 2023.
The summer tradition airs every year on the Discovery Channel— typically running for seven days. This year’s series will start on Sunday, July 23, and will wrap up on Saturday, July 29.
This year, actor Jason Momoa will host the week-long shark extravaganza, serving as the master of ceremonies.