TORONTO – The video begins harmlessly, with several people fishing off a dock. Then a head pops out of the water.
An enhanced close-up reveals a pointed nose and rows of sharp teeth.
The 90-second video of what its creators claim is a shark in Lake Ontario is making the rounds on social media. But it was all hype: the Discovery Channel released a press release Wednesday afternoon confirming the video was fake and part of a promotional campaign for Shark Week.
But the video sparked a rumour that a bull shark was indeed lurking in Lake Ontario.
Waitress Erin Whalen told the National Post she has seen the creature near the docks and vows not to let her children near the water.
According to National Geographic’s website, Bull sharks generally grow to about 7.5 feet long and weigh up to 285 pounds.
While bull sharks are commonly found along coastlines, bays and harbours, they occasionally frequent freshwater rivers.
“Bull sharks have special physiological adaptations that enable them to live in fresh water,” National Geographic’s profile reads. “Their kidneys recycle the salt within their bodies and special glands, located near their tails, also aid in salt retention.”
Natural Resources Minister Bill Mauro tried to remain serious amid jokes from reporters at Queen’s Park about the shark. He told people to stay safe and report any sightings.
“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…Anyway, listen; it is potentially a very serious situation,” he said. “If it is in fact a shark in Lake Ontario, we need to know about it, the public needs to be advised, we need to take whatever steps we can to address the issue.”
Mauro said the ministry doesn’t have anyone actively searching for the alleged shark.
He did, however, say he hopes the animal is Ontario’s version of the Loch Ness Monster.
The speculation of a shark in Lake Ontario has at least created a buzz around Wolfe Island and also spawned its own Twitter account.