‘Cocaine sharks’ may become ‘crazy’ by feasting on drugs dumped in Florida sea: Experts


A shark with a white trail along its nostrils might be the picture popping into your head right now. Dispel it, for this is not a scene out of a science fiction movie, rather a real life study carried out by scientists.

Marine scientists working for Discovery’s Shark Week show examined whether sharks were consuming pharmaceuticals thrown by drug traffickers and smugglers into the sea, which’s purpose they say is ‘beyond gratuitous entertainment’.

According to international media reports, Dr Tracy Fanara, a Florida-based environmental engineer and lead member of the research team, said, “It’s a catchy headline to shed light on a real problem, that everything we use, everything we manufacture, everything we put into our bodies, ends up in our wastewater streams and natural water bodies, and these aquatic life we depend on to survive are then exposed to that.”

The expert further went on to explain how soluble cocaine is and how its structural integrity can be destroyed when in contact with water.

The research was conducted over a span of six days in the Florida Keys, an ecologically sensitive island located on Florida’s tip, where they observed the animal showcasing erratic behaviours.

The hammerhead, usually known to swim away from humans, swam towards them in an unpredicted manner. A sandbar shark was seen swimming in circles as it looked like it was focused on an imaginary object.

The fishes went berserk as they took bites out of dummy bales dropped by scientists into the water. They also loaded balls of bait filled with highly concentrated fish powder which stimulates cocaine.

According to media reports, the researches said the effect was equal to that of catnip on cats and set their ‘brains aflame’.

Florida Keys was chosen as the location to conduct their research due to the convergence of ocean currents that made the region “prevalent” for floating bales of cocaine.

Florida is known to be a prime point for massive amount of drugs that are being transported from the US to South America.


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