When animal control officers in New York got this call — their mouths dropped open. You will have the exact same reaction when you find out what someone had tucked away in their basement.
In scary movies, you always know that the poor schmuck that heads for the basement when he hears a strange noise is going to die. Usually in a pretty horrible way.
Some people avoid basements simply because, for the most part, they are dark, damp scary places even without the threat of a serial killer in the shadows. Most basements don’t have anything worse than a few spider webs floating about. But then again, spiders can send some big strong men running and screaming like a little girl.
Officers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation went into a basement of a home in LaGrangeville, NY recently. They were checking out a report that the home might be harboring illegal wildlife.
Dutchess County SPCA officer Kimberly McNamee said she’s investigated 4,000 cases during her career. “I’ve seen crocodiles, snakes, some stingrays, and I know there was another case that they had alligators,” she said.
There’s always scary music playing in the background when the victim opens the door to the basement to meet their doom. In this case, the theme song from Jaws would have been apropos.
That’s right. The last thing that anybody expects when they enter a basement is to find…a swimming pool filled with sharks.
Sharks in New York?
That’s exactly what the Conservation Officers saw when the lights came on. The owner of the home had set up a 15-foot above ground swimming pool in the basement. Swimming around in it were seven live sandbar sharks as well as two dead leopard sharks and a dead hammerhead shark.
Investigators said the homeowner was likely breeding the sharks to sell to private collectors. Sharks in private collections usually don’t lead a very long or happy life.
Few private homes can maintain an aquarium large enough for a full-grown shark. Once it outgrows its “cute small stage” they are usually killed to make room for another baby. Those who profit from trafficking in the illegal breeding and sales of wildlife don’t care what happens to the animals once they have received their money.
Sand tiger sharks are a federally protected species, and it is illegal to own them anywhere on the East Coast unless you have a special permit. Which the owner did not have.
Officials used nets to capture the live sharks and remove them from the pool. Then, they quickly and carefully transported the animals to the Long Island Aquarium. They are currently under quarantine and are being nursed back to health.
Their future is unknown at this time. But, it is guaranteed that it will be a better life than the one that awaited them in the dark basement.
“These sharks were caught off the coast of Alabama, the Gulf Coast,” the aquarium’s Katie Marino explained. “We can’t put them on exhibit anywhere because if they have some pathogen, that will spread to animals on exhibit.“
The sharks are babies, about 1 to 3 years old. They would have quickly outgrown their environment in the basement, experts say. They can grow to over 9 feet long.
Just like in horror movies, neighbors were surprised to find out the deadly secrets being harbored in the house next door. Despite their presumed deadly nature, the sharks at least were at least a lot quieter than the average house pet.
“I can’t believe that this happened here, it’s such a small town, and there are no sharks near here, there’s no ocean near here,” neighbor Carmella Antonakos said.
Charges are pending against the homeowner. All of the remaining sharks are thriving in their new environment and now are promised a brighter future thanks to the diligence of the Conservation Officers and the wonderful care of the Long Island Aquarium.