Junkie ‘Cocaine Sharks’ are strung out and ‘tweaked’ in Florida: expert

Junkie ‘Cocaine Sharks’ are strung out and ‘tweaked’ in Florida: expert

This gives new meaning to the words Great White.

The new Discovery special “Cocaine Sharks” investigates rumors of rampant recreational cocaine use by strung out sharks in the Florida Keys — getting high on millions of pounds of nose candy dumped into the waterway via the area’s illicit drug trafficking trade.

“I firmly believe, and it’s not just a chance of probability, that a shark will come across a floating bale [of cocaine] and take a bite,” Tom “The Blowfish” Hird, who hosts the show as part of Discovery’s annual Shark Week, told The Post.

“What’s interesting is that the sharks we saw … weren’t right, they weren’t just so, they seemed a little bit off — now that was very interesting,” said Hird, a renowned marine biologist.

“One thing is for sure — we had a couple of sharks behaving strangely, and while it may not be cocaine … nothing suggests that it wasn’t.”

In the special, premiering July 26 at 10 p.m., Hird and scientist Dr. Tracy Fanara dive into the waters off the Florida coast, attracting tiger sharks, hammerheads and lemon sharks — some of which exhibit unusually aggressive behavior. Others, as Hird says on-air, appear to “have the spins,” are “slightly twisted” or are “tweaked” as a “junkie shark” might be if it ingested cocaine.

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A shark chomping into a bale of "cocaine" in a scene from "Cocaine Sharks."
A shark pounces on one of the bales of “cocaine” dropped into the water off the Florida Keys in “Cocaine Sharks.”
Courtesy of Discovery

Tom Hird underwater with some sharks. He's wearing scuba diving gear and looking straight at the camera.
Tom Hird dives with sharks in the Discovery special airing Wednesday at 10.
Courtesy of Tom âBlowfishâ Hird

To see if sharks will attack bales of cocaine dropped into the water from above, which is how the Florida Keys coke ends up there, Hird and Fanara toss bales filled with fish powder — akin to the stimulant Dopamine found in coke, into the water — then watch as “super-feisty” sharks of all shapes and sizes greedily grab the bales and swim away, ignoring decoy [fake] swans.

It is, as Hird told The Post, a “siren call” for the beasts, who would rather grab a foreign object than feast on a living creature.

“We know that cocaine acts as an analgesic and anesthetic to some extent, so certainly, if a shark got a hold of a big lump of coke, just like a human I think the first thing that would happen is that its gills would be numbed,” Hird said. “But we have no idea of what might happen — if they might become very agitated and much more unpredictable or if they get stoned, becoming lethargic and disinterested in food.

“There really are no guidelines to what may happen.”

While sharks have not (yet) been tested for cocaine consumption, salmon have — and, as seen in “Cocaine Sharks,” they get extremely hyper when exposed to cocaine.

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Photo of Tom "The Blowfish" Hird. He's outdoors, squinting in the sun and holding a fish in his hand. His beard has a ponytail.
Tom “The Blowfish” Hird believes that sharks in the Florida Keys could be addicted to cocaine.
Courtesy of Tom âBlowfishâ Hird

Meanwhile, Hird said that studies in the UK undertaken at 15 sampling sites along London’s River Thames showed some startling results vis-a-vis fish and drugs.

“At each one of those 15 sites they found shrimp, and each shrimp contained cocaine,” he said.

“I was not aware of local stories [in the Florida Keys] about sharks getting on cocaine and going on a three-day bender, but the minute [the ‘Cocaine Sharks’ production company] brought this idea to me — and asked me if it was legit — I said, ‘Yeah, it totally is.’

“We knew then and there that we had a great story to tell that, at its end, has an important conservation message and will hopefully spur a bit more research in this area.”

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