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Longboat Key residents finding sharks in canal behind their homes

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 5:07 AM EDT
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LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. (WWSB) - Some Suncoast residents are seeing the effects of red tide in their own backyards. What they’re seeing is sharks swimming in canals.

Residents are finding sharks in the Buttonwood Harbor neighborhood of Longboat Key.

“They were across the whole water,” said Longboat Key resident Kenny Harms. “I was surprised!”

Harms says he saw sharks of all types swimming in the canal located behind his backyard on Buttonwood Drive.

“My girlfriend, she’s been here 21 years and has never seen a shark here,” he said.

Since Saturday, residents have been sharing videos with ABC7, showing their encounters with dozens of sharks of all sizes.

Meanwhile, researchers say sharks don’t usually veture out to canals as there’s not enough food for them.

“They’re not there to feed, they’re finding refuge from red tide,” said Dr. Bob Hueter, chief scientist for Ocearch.

When it comes to sharks, researchers say they’re susceptible to red tide like any other fish, and what they’re trying to do is find oxygen.

“As long as red tide is on the outside and they smell it, they’ll stay in there,” he said.

However, canals are not always the best place for that.

“The other problem they face in these back border areas, canals, and small bays especially in this time of year, the water is so hot, oxygen will be very limited,” said Hueter.

That’s why residents like Harms placed air stones that help bubble air into the waterway.

“You have to be careful, this is their habitat,” said Harms.

A habitat, researchers say is not safe to swim for now.

If you do come across sharks in canals or other onshore areas, you can report it to MOTE Marine Laboratory and the FWC.

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