Watch a Massive Shark Feeding Frenzy Off the Coast of Louisiana

The footage of the feeding frenzy comes amid increasing shark numbers in the Gulf of Mexico
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Sharks boiling in a feeding frenzy at the water's surface.
Andre Seale / VW PICS / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Dillon May was fishing for yellowfin tuna on a private boat off the coast of Venice, Louisiana, last month when the water began to churn. Soon the ocean erupted into mayhem as hundreds of sharks began a massive feeding frenzy on a school of baitfish.

The sharks chased the ball of baitfish—likely menhaden—toward the boat, seeking shelter beneath and around the boat. By now the Jacksonville man had gotten out his phone to video the boiling water, and the footage has since gone viral.

The sharks pushed right up to the fishing boat, slapping their tails against the hull and spraying fishermen with water as they fed. Dorsal fins, bodies, and tails of the moderately sized sharks thrash above and below the surface. They are most likely bull sharks, which reach five to eight feet in length and are abundant this time of year in the Gulf of Mexico, when baitfish (and their predators) migrate through the waters each spring.

Shark Sightings, and Limits, Increase in the Gulf

“Over the past 10 years I’ve seen a tremendous increase in many shark species throughout Louisiana,” says Capt. Mike Frenette, owner of the Redfish Lodge of Louisiana in Venice. “They’re not only in deep water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but throughout the shallow waters of the Mississippi Delta.”

Some fishermen believe shark numbers have increased to perhaps unprecedented numbers. For that reason, Louisiana increased commercial shark fishing limits late last year. The Louisiana Fisheries Commission also re-opened the commercial shark season, which had been closed to commercial shark fishing from April through June.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says the increased limits aim to target more great hammerheads, scalloped hammerheads, smooth hammerheads, nurse sharks, blacktip sharks, bull sharks, lemon sharks, sandbar sharks, silky sharks, spinner sharks, and tiger sharks. (Other sharks, such as dusky sharks, remain protected.) The increase was authorized by the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Commission after it learned of a similar adjustment in federal waters.

“For the past five years, during the yellowfin tuna run, there are places at the mouth of the Mississippi River that giant dusky, bull, and possibly silky sharks attack maybe 80 percent of the large yellowfins we hook,” says Frenette. “I’ve never [before] seen the number of sharks that we now have in coastal and offshore waters of Louisiana.”

Feeding frenzies like the one May filmed last month often occur when predators, like sharks, scare schooling fish into a bait ball. The sharks work together to corner the baitfish near the surface, then individually attack and feed on the prey.