“The biggest I’ve ever seen was about 6 feet long,” says University of New Orleans researcher Martin O’Connell. He’s talking about a shark in Lake Pontchartrain.
O’Connell is the chair of UNO’s Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. He’s also the director of the university’s Nekton Research Lab which spends a lot of time studying sharks in the lake. He says 99% of the sharks in the lake are bull sharks and most of those are young.
“I think what’s going on is that the juveniles are coming and using the lake perhaps as a nursery.”
In what may be the first-ever documented shark attack in Lake Pontchartrain, 7-year-old Trent Trentacosta was bitten last Friday by a shark. O’Connell is certain it was a bull shark.
O’Connell says his researchers have caught and tracked bull sharks using transmitters. He says most of the bull sharks can be found along the north shore of the lake. He says they like the mix of salt and fresh water in the lake and can even swim farther inland to other lakes and rivers.
“You may find one on the Tchefuncte. I know they’ve been found up the Amite River. They’ve been found in Lake Maurepas. They’ve definitely been found past Manchac.”
If all this shark talk has you itching to go catch one, be careful. Also know that the state has some restrictions on shark fishing. Log on to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/saltwater-creel-and-size-limits for details.