See Shark Swimming Through Florida City Streets

There are hurricane sharks floating through the streets of Florida

By Charlene Badasie | Published

One of the most dangerous storms to hit the United States in years has left millions of Florida residents without power and floodwaters surging inland. Now, dramatic visuals of Hurricane Ian’s destruction show trees being torn from the ground, reporters getting blown away, and even a shark swimming in the street. Video footage of the oceanic predator being swept into Fort Myers has been widely shared on social media.

While rather entertaining, the clip is an indication of the storm’s severity. Interestingly, animals prepare for natural disasters long before their human counterparts. Long before people purchase sandbags or board up windows an underwater hurricane evacuation begins, with sharks, sea snakes, and other wildlife preparing to escape. If they don’t they risk becoming trapped or hurt as massive storms approach. They could even be displaced as evidenced in the video.

Most of Florida’s aquatic life knows what to do in a storm like Hurricane Ian – and sharks are usually among the best. After all, these creatures have had millions more years of practice than humans. But those age-old skills will only become more useful as hurricanes become more intense from climate change. “Aquatic animals respond to storms for the same reason we do,” Bradley Strickland, a postdoctoral researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science told Popular Science.

Still, some animals are better equipped to weather or evade the storms than others, explains Neil Hammerschlag, director of the shark research and conservation program at the University of Miami. Even when a storm is far on the horizon, the atmosphere changes and the barometric pressure drops. So from about two weeks before a hurricane, sharks can detect the change and start heading for deeper water.

Similar to the way scientists use meteorological technology and observations about the changing wind and temperature before a storm, aquatic animals have ways to sense an approaching storm. And in hurricane weather, sharks use their sensitive inner ears to detect pressure changes. Due to their incredible swimming abilities of 45 miles per hour, they can quickly escape oncoming storms if they choose to.

In most cases, smaller shark species and juveniles opt to escape to deeper water to avoid turbulence near the shore. For them, staying in shallow water would be like a shark tornado because hurricanes can push currents up to 300 feet below the ocean’s surface. For smaller sharks that remain in the shallows, they risk being swept inland.

The air around Hurricane Ian has gradually been decreasing in pressure as the storm strengthened, and sharks can sense that allows them to flee long before Florida’s human residents were given mandatory evacuation orders. Therefore, it’s a little unclear how the ocean dweller ended up in the street. Perhaps he got left behind, wasn’t strong enough to avoid being swept away in the storm water’s waves, or just didn’t want to leave.

Before making landfall in Florida, the storm tore into Cuba, killing two people. It also brought down the country’s electrical grid. Back home, President Biden assured people that the government will be there to clean up and rebuild. “We’ll be there every step of the way. That’s my absolute commitment to the people of the state of Florida,” he said. For now, the fate of the hurricane-stranded shark remains unknown.