Valona, GA (NBC News) - Sharks can be menacing, dangerous and they may be closer to us than you think. Bull sharks are increasingly being sighted in fresh water rivers.
For Noel Todd, his shark show down was basically in his back yard. Just a few weeks ago, the 16-year-old was hanging out at this fishing dock in his hometown of Valona, Georgia. "I'm always coming down here just to socialize, every day," he explained.
Raised in a shrimping family, Noel is no stranger to the water or its creatures. Shark sightings are a common thing, especially if you're on a shrimp boat like this and especially if you're heading to sea, but Noel says it's so rare for them to be spotted near land.
But while the teen was at the dock he saw some thing in this shallow pool, "Two sharks, not one but two," he said.
They were man eating bull sharks, responsible for more deadly shark attacks than any other breed. Fast, aggressive, and they can swim in fresh water. Noel quickly fetched a shark hook, some bait and threw it in. "It basically came up, hit the pogie, locked on and started carrying it up the river, and when he started to slow down we started snapping."
With help from another man, the two pulled the ropes with their bare hands, dragging the bull shark to the dock. "I figured it would have been a hundred pound shark, when it came out to three hundred pound shark, phew, it was a doozy is all I could say"
The bull shark weighed 368 pounds, measuring nearly 8 and a half feet long, in about four feet of water. The bull sharks are believed to be following shrimp boats, which sometimes throw unwanted fish overboard, up rivers from the Gulf of Mexico. No freshwater attacks on humans have been reported, so far. Chris Coco, Curator of zoological operations at the Georgia Aquarium said, "Bull sharks are a big animal, very aggressive feeder, no doubt, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, a tragedy like that could occur. Absolutely."
Fishermen have recently encountered bull sharks on the Potomac River in Maryland and near Sea Island, Georgia. Back in Valona, they are looking at this dock differently. "There's little kids they learn how to swim with a life jacket right in here.," he said.
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