The social media claim sounds like a storyline straight out of the “Shark Week” television franchise.
“Did you know they actually had documented bull sharks stuck in the Great Lakes?” said Forrest Galante, the speaker in a July 27 video on Instagram that has been liked more than 145,000 times.
Galante made the comment on “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast in December 2019. The video was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
But the claim isn’t true. Experts told The Associated Press there’s no documentation of bull sharks in the Great Lakes. The myth also has been debunked by organizations such as the Shedd Aquarium (on Lake Michigan) and the Great Lakes Echo, produced by Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism.
“There have been no confirmed sightings or captures of bull sharks in the Great Lakes that I’m aware of,” Jeff Tyson, the fishery management program manager at the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, told the AP in a story published Aug. 5.
In the Instagram video, Galante — a biologist and television personality — also said, “Sharks swimming 1,000 miles from, you know, Louisiana up rivers and getting stuck in the Great Lakes.”
Sharks traveling from Louisiana would have to traverse the Mississippi River to reach the Great Lakes. But the Shedd Aquarium noted in a 2014 publication that although bull sharks “have been known to ascend the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico as far as St. Louis,” locks and dams plus an electric barrier on the Illinois River “would make it next to impossible for even a bull shark to enter the Great Lakes.”
We rate the claim that bull sharks have been documented in the Great Lakes False.