Discover History’s Greatest Shark vs Alligator Battle (Hundreds of Gators and Sharks Fought)

Written by Kristen Holder
Published: June 11, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Nigel Stripe
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A report in a magazine titled The Fishing Gazette, published on October 5, 1877, describes the most gruesome shark vs alligator battle on record. According to the reported eyewitness accounts, hundreds of gators and sharks fought.

The battle took place at the Jupiter Inlet in Jupiter, Florida. This inlet is located north of Miami in southeast Florida. Both gators and sharks are opportunistic feeders, so when they come in contact with each other, they both see a meal.

Alligators are capable of living in salt water for weeks at a time, whereas almost all sharks can’t live in brackish or freshwater environments. So how did alligators end up out to sea?

Both sharks and alligators are vicious apex predators. How did the greatest shark vs alligator battle pan out? Who won a battle where hundreds of gators and sharks fought? Let’s find out.

Where Did All the Alligators Come From for the Greatest Shark vs Alligator Battle?

American alligator,Alligator mississippiensis on a white background
A storm blew over 500 alligators out to sea in 1877.

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A storm that brewed up eastern gale-force winds blew tons of black bass out of the freshwater systems to the east into coastal waters. This attracted a massive amount of gators from the everglades to the area. Over 500 gators swarmed the area to eat the marooned fish.

The Lakeworth and Allokehatchie creeks were their main highways to the area. Accounts from the 1877 article describe the waters as red with blood from the black bass vs gator massacre.

While the alligators were still at their fish buffet, a northern wind picked up, which sent fresh water into the inlet in large quantities. This washed the gators, who were already far from home, out into the ocean.

Where Did All the Sharks Come From For the Greatest Shark vs Alligator Battle?

The sharks were hanging out on the coast when over 500 alligators came spilling out into coastal waters. The tide was minimal that night, so a large number of sharks had approached shore as alligators came pouring in.

The sharks also smelled all of the fish blood in the water pouring out of Jupiter Inlet and began to swarm the area. The sharks were starved because of the gale-force storm that had recently blown through, so they decided to chow down on alligators.

What did the Shark vs Alligator Battle Look Like?

Those present said the sound of the ocean was drowned out by the sounds of the battle. The sharks and alligators were seen battling in the waves.

The dead were washed up on shore and continued to wash up on shore for a few days. Currents washed some of the bodies over 80 miles away. Bodies of both sharks and gators were gruesomely mauled.

There were more sharks on the beach than alligators, so presumably, the gators won the fight. Heavy casualties were incurred on both sides, however.

Who Usually Wins a Shark vs Alligator Battle?

baby hammerhead shark school
Sharks usually lose when they fight alligators.

EDGAR PHOTOSAPIENS/Shutterstock.com

Alligators usually win shark vs alligator battles. However, this greatly depends on the size of the dueling opponents. Alligators may be the victors because they’re present in greater numbers in the habitat where the greatest battle took place between the two animals.

There haven’t been official studies confirming if sharks or alligators are the better opponents, but the scant evidence that does exist shows that alligators reign supreme.

One study suggests that, depending on the ecosystem, one of these animals may top the other. For example, in one area, the top predator would be the alligator. In another, the shark reigns supreme.

Both alligators and sharks are among the oldest animals on the planet, with ancestors that existed hundreds of millions of years ago. Undoubtedly, huge battles between alligators and sharks have occurred throughout history.

Will We Discover Another Shark vs Alligator Battle?

We probably will not discover another shark vs alligator battle, as sharks have been overfished. Also, when this battle occurred, most of the Jupiter Inlet was undeveloped. Since humans modernized the area, there aren’t as many gators around.

Most of the accounts of shark vs alligator battles were discoveries made in the 19th century. There have not been any recorded mass attacks in recent years, though individual discoveries of a clash between these two animals do exist.

What Kind of Sharks Do Alligators Eat?

A Bonnethead shark swimming in the ocean.
Bonnetheads are on an alligator’s menu.

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Gators eat lemon sharks, bonnetheads, and nurse sharks. They also eat rays. They’ll eat the juveniles of any species that they manage to come across since they eat pretty much anything that’s made of meat.

Bonnetheads love to chow down on crabs in shallow water, which makes them an excellent choice for a hungry alligator. Lemon sharks also like shallow waters for shark nurseries, so they’re also an easy target for alligators. The nurse shark’s story mirrors the rest of the sharks on the menu.

What Kind of Sharks Showed Up to the Greatest Shark vs Gator Battle?

While no one knows exactly which sharks showed up at the greatest battle in 1877, it is possible to take an educated guess. It’s always shark season in Florida though the temperature of the water determines which sharks are taking up residence in the area for a few months.

This means that any of the sharks found off the Florida coast, specifically near Jupiter Inlet near Miami, could have been involved in the attack. Sharks are known to swim in the hundreds, particularly the aggressive reef shark and tiger sharks.

Reef sharks are known to swim in schools in the hundreds, whereas tiger sharks are generally solitary. Tiger sharks will congregate in huge groups if the right feeding opportunity presents itself. Perhaps they discovered 500 alligators battling it out with sharks and joined in on the carnage.

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About the Author

I'm a freelance ghostwriter that specializes in SEO content. I have always loved writing, and when COVID happened, I went at my passion full tilt. I'm currently in Spokane, WA by way of Phoenix, AZ, though I'm originally from Sacramento, CA. Freelancing allows me the freedom to move around as I please.