Salmon shark washes up on shores of landlocked Idaho, baffling residents

Salmon shark deep in the ocean.
A salmon shark deep in the ocean. Warren Metcalf / Shutterstock contributor
  • A salmon shark, which lives in saltwater, washed up on the shore of Idaho's freshwater Salmon River.

  • The sharks are usually only found in parts of the Northern Pacific Ocean.

  • They grow up to 10 ft. and 1,000 lbs., but experts say Idahoans shouldn't worry about sharks.

Residents of Idaho were hooked by an unusual sight in mid-August when they came across the body of a washed-up salmon shark.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game was flooded with calls after people stumbled on the shark on the banks of the freshwater Salmon River, per KTVX's reporting.

A post from Clearwater Region fisheries manager Joe DuPont on the IDFG website confirmed the shark did appear to be a salmon shark, which can't live in freshwater.

Salmon sharks can grow anywhere from six and a half to over 10 feet long and may weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

They are especially interesting because unlike many shark species, which like warmer water, salmon sharks have the best endothermic capabilities of any shark — the ability to raise their blood temperature to match or even exceed that of their surrounding waters, per the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Usually, they can maintain a constant body temperature of about 78 degrees Fahrenheit, regardless of the water temperature around them.

The ADFG also notes salmon sharks are usually found in subarctic and temperate parts of the Northern Pacific Ocean — a fair distance from landlocked Idaho.

Despite the whole fishy situation, DuPont didn't seem worried. He thought the entire case might be a prank.

"It is safe to assume that somebody dropped this on the shore for a good laugh. I certainly have laughed about it. This would have been a great April's Fools Joke," DuPont wrote. "Rest assured, we have no sharks swimming around in Idaho."

It's unclear how someone would transport a salmon shark from its usual habitat to Idaho, at least alive. Per the University of Florida, it's only become possible for sharks to be taken out of the water and put into other habitats safely because of large equipment like stretchers, extreme gentleness with the sharks' bodies, and machines that can pump water over their gills constantly.

Residents weren't wrong for feeling some alarm. There have been cases of mistaken shark sightings this summer from officials like Ted Cruz, "cocaine sharks" off the coast of Florida, and generally strange behavior from the kings of the sea, like an increase in attacks in New York.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game did not respond immediately to requests for comment from Insider, sent outside regular business hours.

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