National Geographic
Menu

Eight-foot Sharks Netted in Potomac River

Two big sharks were fished out of the Potomac River this week. Is the U.S. capital swimming with predators?

By David Braun

The Potomac, fondly nicknamed the “Nation’s River” because it flows through Washington, D.C., is known for its hazards and treacherous currents. But if you can navigate those, and slip past the politicians, there may be something else lurking in the water: big sharks.

Potomac shark photo 1.jpg

Photo of the shark caught in the Potomac courtesy of Christy Henderson, Buzz’s Marina.

bull shark facts.jpg

Fisher Willy Dean caught an eight-foot shark in the Potomac River this week, NBC 4, a local television station, reported.

“Dean put out a net Monday at Cornfield Harbor in the Potomac three miles north of Point Lookout with hopes of catching cow-nosed rays for a Solomons Island Marina biologist. When he checked Monday night, everything seemed normal. But when he checked again Tuesday morning, he made a startling discovery,” NBC 4 said.

“In the net was an eight-foot-long shark. He said it was a bull shark. According to National Geographic, experts consider them to be ‘the most dangerous sharks in the world,'” NBC 4 added. (Read more about what Nat Geo says about bull sharks.)

Read the NBC 4 story.

Dean said the shark has been frozen while he considers what to do with it. He may mount it.

“I would not say it is common to catch sharks in the Potomac River but they are in the [Chesapeake] Bay. They feed on rays and are able to travel into fresher water which is why you see them in rivers,” said Christy Henderson, who made the photographs of the shark on this page. She and her husband Michael Henderson own Buzz’s Marina, which is near the Potomac mouth on the Maryland side of the Bay.

“The fisherman (Willy Dean) ties up at my pier and he called me and asked me to take pictures for him. I take pictures of everything that moves as a hobby and he knows that. I put new pictures on my web page daily so I am always asking people to let me know about interesting catches,” Henderson said in an email to Nat Geo News Watch.

Potomac shark photo 2.jpg

Photo of fisher Willy Dean (left) and the shark he caught in the Potomac courtesy of Christy Henderson, Buzz’s Marina.

 

Second eight-foot shark found in Potomac on same day

The same day another shark was found in another pound net a few miles up the Potomac River in Tall Timbers, Henderson added. “It was 8′ 3″, according to Thomas Crowder, the fisherman who owned that net.”

“This summer we also had a humpback whale visit us in the bay, so really you never know what you will find here.”

Sharks aren’t the only big visitors to that part of the Chesapeake. “This summer we also had a humpback whale visit us in the bay, so really you never know what you will find here,” Henderson said.

The shark caught by Dean was identified by Ken Kaumeyer, curator of estuarine biology at the Calvert Marine Museum, who was with Dean when he found the shark in his net, so he has confirmed that it is indeed a bull shark, Henderson said. “They were collecting rays for the Marine Museum exhibit when it was found.”

Related National Geographic News story:

Great Whites May Be Taking the Rap for Bull Shark Attacks

Join Nat Geo News Watch community

Readers are encouraged to comment on this and other posts–and to share similar stories, photos and links–on the Nat Geo News Watch Facebook page. You must sign up to be a member of Facebook and a fan of the blog page to do this.

Leave a comment on this page

You may also email David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org) if you have a comment that you would like to be considered for adding to this page. You are welcome to comment anonymously under a pseudonym.

Comments

  1. Jim Hall
    SW Delaware
    August 23, 2013, 3:06 am

    Point Lookout is down at the mouth of the Potomac about 100 river miles from DC so it’s not like these were terrorizing the Capitol. They were at the food rich mouth of the estuary where you might expect to find big fish hanging around eating smaller fish. Let’s keep it real, Nat Geo.

  2. Meg
    Arlington
    May 10, 2013, 11:44 am

    Funded by whom?

  3. Megan
    May 10, 2013, 11:42 am

    perhaps you should start a fund.

  4. Cassidy Pokallus
    Wisconsin
    August 19, 2011, 8:23 pm

    It is a very good thing I did not fall in on a boat tour on the Potomac River two months ago. I would’ve been thrashing in the water and that would’ve made me shark bait! It’s a good thing I didn’t know there were sharks in there before the trip.

  5. Lori Montgomery-Noblitt
    Wichita, Kansas
    July 31, 2011, 7:31 pm

    Please be so kind to remove all of the SHARKS before Nations Tri Sept 11th. There will be enough of us trying to find a space to swim…. God made all creatures big and small and I do appreciate them all…. Just prefer to not be swimming with them… D.C sushi!!!!!!

  6. Pat Ford
    April 28, 2011, 6:13 pm

    why weren’t these beautiful sharks relocated back to ocean waters instead of to let them die??