Are "cocaine sharks" really feasting on illegal contraband?

Jaws for Effect

It wouldn't be Shark Week without some wild tales of sharks interacting with humans, from feeding frenzies to horrific first-hand accounts of attacks (which, for the record, are rare.)

But this year's Shark Week, which is airing next week on Discovery, takes the cake when it comes to headlines-grabbing reports about the underwater monsters, this time with speculation about "cocaine sharks" devouring huge bales of cocaine that sometimes wash up on Florida beaches.

It may not be quite as far-fetched as it sounds. In June alone, the Coast Guard fished over 14,100 pounds of the white powder out of the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean, as Live Science reports.

To investigate the possibility that sharks could help themselves, TV personality and marine biologist Tom "The Blowfish" Hird teamed up with University of Florida environmental scientist Tracy Fanara for some fun but somewhat dubious-sounding experiments.

Hird and Fanara got to work by dropping simulated packages of "cocaine" — no sharks were harmed in the making of this Discovery special — to see if the sharks would bite. Even when placed next to decoy dummy swans, the sharks swam right to the bales to take a bite.

"We have no idea what [cocaine] could do to the shark," Hird admitted to Live Science. "So we can't even say well this is a baseline and go from here," he said.

Jumping the Shark

After stuffing some more bait balls with concentrated fish powder — the closest and safest alternative to feeding cocaine to sharks they could think of — the duo says the sharks went wild and started acting irrationally.

We'll let readers decide whether that stands up to scrutiny. But Hird is urging audiences to consider broader implications of ocean pollution.

"The deeper story here is the way that chemicals, pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs are entering our waterways — entering our oceans — and what effect that they then could go on to have on these delicate ocean ecosystems," Hird told Live Science.

One thing's for clear: "Cocaine Bear" is so five months ago.

More on sharks: Netflix Camera Boat Attacked by Swarm of Furious Sharks

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