Fin-shaped object has some thinking sharks swam up Mississippi

Image of a fin-shaped object spotted in the Mississippi River near Harpers Ferry, November 18.
Image of a fin-shaped object spotted in the Mississippi River near Harpers Ferry, November 18.(KCRG)
Published: Nov. 29, 2017 at 7:30 PM CST
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A shark in the Mississippi River? As funny as that sounds— for the last few weeks a number of viewers have been sending TV9 pictures and video of an odd looking "fin-thing" jutting out of the water near Harpers Ferry.

The images were taken November 18. Now, some are asking if a toothy visitor has taken a vacation from the Gulf of Mexico.

Well, the experts say, probably not.

Andy Allison, the director of living collections at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium, said only one shark could likely withstand the freshwater of the Mississippi, the bull shark.

Allison said the animal would struggle in the river's chilly temps. Plus, another issue.

“The shape is not consistent with the fin shape of a bull shark," said Allison.

Bull sharks have a straighter fin on their backs. The "thing" in the photos is curved.

That’s not to say Iowa has never had sharks. The state had a lot of them back when Iowa was down near the Earth’s equator, covered in ocean, hundreds of millions of years ago.

Geologists know this because they’ve found shark remains in the rocks.

“Right around 345 million years ago," said Ryan Clark a geologist with the Iowa Geological Survey. "We do have some actual shark teeth—looking things in some of the rocks.”

But let’s get back to the present. What about the "thing?" If not a shark, what is it really? Some have suggested it's the fin of a large grass carp, which can reach several feet in length.

Allison wasn't convinced it was even alive.

“To me that picture looks like a piece of driftwood floating down the river," he said.

Sorry to be a stick in the mud, shark fans.