RIGGINS, Idaho (ABC4) — Idaho isn’t exactly known for its sharks, which makes the sudden appearance of a salmon shark on the shores of the Salmon River even more surprising.
Last week, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) said calls and emails came pouring in, reporting a shark had washed up on the shores of the Salmon River. Upon an investigation, Clearwater Region fisheries manager Joe Dupont said it sure looks like a shark in a post about the discovery, but he is puzzled by how it got there.
The Salmon River, otherwise known as “The River of No Return,” is a freshwater river that runs in central and eastern Idaho. According to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, the main stem of the river is home to a variety of fish, including several species of trout and salmon among others. Noticeably not local to the Salmon River is the salmon shark.
“No sharks have been observed swimming up our ladders lately, and the only known shark that can live in freshwater is the Bull Shark,” said Dupont.
Dupont said salmon sharks can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh up to almost 1,000 pounds. While they do like to feed on salmon – hence the name – salmon sharks are primarily found in open ocean and coastal waters, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Typically, salmon sharks swim around the Okhotsk and Bering Seas near Korea and Japan as well as from the Gulf of Alaska to central Baja California.
Given that the Salmon River isn’t a native habitat for the salmon shark, Dupont said the community has nothing to worry about as there are no sharks swimming around Idaho.
As for how the salmon shark found its way into central Idaho? Dupont thinks it had a little bit of human help.
“I think it is safe to assume that somebody dropped this one on the shore for a good laugh. I certainly have laughed about it,” said Dupont. “This would have been a great April’s Fools joke.”
Dupont told ABC4 the Salmon Shark has been shipped to a marine biologist in Washington for an autopsy. The report of that autopsy will not be available until October at the earliest.