Shark Tales No More. Live Sharks Caught in Minnehaha CreekShortly after Jaws opened in Minneapolis theatres back in the summer of 1975, the number of swimmers using our area lakes and pools plunged significantly. So, when a 10 year-old Minneapolis student approached Minnesota DNR biologist Dan Marais about three fossilized shark’s teeth she had found in Minnehaha Creek, he could only smile to himself. More shark tales, he thought. That is, until he actually saw the teeth.
Worried about the negative effect on local recreation a man-eating shark might possibly cause, Minnesota officials ordered an immediate sweep of Minnehaha Creek. On Saturday, March 26, conservation officers began their search below the falls using ultrasonic stun devices to drive any fish downstream and into gill nets strung across the mouth of the creek. Despite catcalls and hoots from park patrons, the team worked downstream throughout the day and into the night. It was difficult work with shallow water and an unusual number of recently downed trees blocking the creek.
A little after midnight, two juvenile sharks were captured along with dozens of rough fish and several spawning Northern Pike. Both sharks were malnourished and docile, but in overall better health than the larger Lake Pepin specimen. The two fish are now in a special hospital tank at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley, undergoing observation and a slow acclimatization back to salt water. The staff there have named them Lenny and Frankie, after two of the characters from the 2004 animated feature, Shark Tale.
This summer, scientists plan to install experimental freshwater sonar devices to watch for sharks in the two-mile stretch of the Mississippi between the Ford Dam and its confluence with the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling State Park.
For the safety of its visitors, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board ordered signs prohibiting cliff diving or swimming in or below Minnehaha Falls until further notice.
So what about those two teeth? Technicians dated them by comparing tannin stain penetration to known levels in the Creek. They judge that the teeth had been in the creek for 7-10 years. Long before Hurricane Katrina.
Laura Zimmerley, feeling vindicated nowadays, can be heard humming the theme song from Jaws... Dah duh, dah duh