Tampa residents shocked to find bull sharks in Hillsborough River

Experts: Bull sharks can live in freshwater

TAMPA, Fla. - A group of Tampa residents said they were shocked to find bull shark pups in the Hillsborough River last week.

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Cassie and Nikki Blanco, along with their son were delighted to find the baby sharks just steps from the shoreline.

Alex Morris, who fishes alongside the river daily, said he's seen sharks in the river before.

"They get about seven foot out here," he told WFTS-TV.

Experts at the Florida Aquarium say Morris is spot on. They say bull sharks, like the ones caught by the residents, can live in freshwater bodies of water, including estuaries and rivers.

"We can find out that we have sharks in our own backyards!" said Eric Hovland, an associate curator and shark expert at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa. "And maybe, in our front yards, if you live on the river!" 

Hovland said now is the time when female bull sharks come into the rivers to have their pups. Female bull sharks can get as large as nine feet, and can be found as far north as the Mississippi River in Illinois, Hovland said.

For anyone who catches a bull shark fishing, Hovland said a fishing license is needed, and then there is a legal limit of fishing one shark, per person, per day, or two sharks per boat.

Morris said the group threw the baby shark pups back into the river.

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