Did A Salmon Shark Wash Up On The Shore Of Idaho’s Salmon River?

Salmon Shark
Idaho Fish & Game

First, I didn’t even know this was a species. Second, what the heck are sharks doing in Idaho?

Residents of the Gem State were up in arms recently when a picture of a salmon shark that allegedly washed up on the shores of the Salmon River was posted online.

Salmon sharks are a species of mackerel shark native to the northern Pacific Ocean and, as the name would suggest, feeds primarily on salmon as well as squid, sablefish, and herring. They typical grow to around 6-8 feet in length and weigh around 485 pounds, but there are reports of some reaching around 10 feet and 1000lbs.

As you might have guessed, these are saltwater fish and the Salmon River is freshwater, so it’s not normal at all that one would be found that far inland.

But despite the long, if not impossible, odds, Idaho Fish and Game received numerous calls to report what looked to be one of these sea creatures alongside the 425 mile long river that runs through the middle of the state.

After investigating, they did confirm that the creature spotted in fact was a salmon shark, but don’t believe that it got their naturally.

The waters of Idaho have been swarmed recently with non-native species that can be detrimental to the native trout and salmon populations, with smallmouth bass and walleye being two of the confirmed problem species, but the game commission isn’t as worried about this lone shark sighting, saying it more than likely was a prank.

“First smallmouth bass, then walleye, and now SALMON SHARKS! When are our salmon and steelhead going to catch a break?

Calls and emails came pouring in yesterday claiming a shark was found washed up on the shores of the Salmon River near Riggins. With so many calls coming in, we investigated.

By the look of it, this does appear to be a salmon shark. As indicated by its name, salmon sharks like to feed on salmon. So, should we be concerned with this shocking discovery and its potential impacts on our salmon and steelhead populations?

Well………. seeing no sharks have been observed swimming up our fish ladders lately, and the only known shark that can live in freshwater is the bull shark, we think it is safe to assume that somebody dropped this on the shore for a good laugh.

Our Clearwater regional fisheries manager certainly had a good laugh about it. This would have been a great April Fool’s Joke.” 

Who am I to question the game commission, but it seems like they pretty easily brushed this off with no real evidence to support their prank idea.

Of course, it’s insane to really believe that there are sharks swimming in the waters of Idaho, but hey, things do happen.

Let’s hope the prankster got their laugh and doesn’t do any more of this. I don’t think we need to be transporting sharks around the country just to get people riled up.


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock