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‘Cocaine sharks’ could be feeding on drugs, scientists say

Edithe, a 11-foot, 8-inch female white shark (Chris Ross/ South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)
July 26, 2023

Discovery Channel’s upcoming “Cocaine Sharks” episode will discuss a theory scientists have regarding sharks feeding on drugs that are dumped into the ocean off the coast of Florida.

According to The Guardian, the Discovery Channel’s latest episode will be featured this week during the company’s “Shark Week” programming.

“It’s a catchy headline to shed light on a real problem, that everything we use, everything we manufacture, everything we put into our bodies, ends up in our wastewater streams and natural water bodies, and these aquatic life we depend on to survive are then exposed to that,” Tracy Fanara, a lead member of the research team for the episode and a Florida-based environmental engineer, said.

Fanara told The Guardian that studies have shown cocaine, methamphetamines, pharmaceuticals, and ketamine, can each affect fish in the ocean.

Business Insider reported that cocaine bales have been found on beaches in Florida for many years, often caused by drug traffickers tossing the drugs into the sea while attempting to evade law enforcement.

READ MORE: Secret Service did not interview any suspects over cocaine found in White House

In June, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it had recovered over $186 million worth of illegal drugs in both the Caribbean and the Atlantic.

“If these cocaine bales are a point source of pollution, it’s very plausible [sharks] can be affected by this chemical,” she said. “Cocaine is so soluble that any of those packages open just a little, the structural integrity is destroyed and the drug is in the water.”

Fanara explained that while the “Cocaine Sharks” episode was being filmed in the Florida Keys, the cocaine bales could be seen “like twice in one week” washing up on the shore. “It’s really a prevalent issue,” she said.

According to The Guardian, the network anticipates that the “Cocaine Sharks” feature will be one of the largest draws for the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” programming.