But we know it’s happened at least once.
In a video taken off the coast of South Carolina in the aptly named Skull Creek, an alligator is seen swimming with a shark – most likely a small bonnethead – held tight in its jaws. Skull Creek, a part of the Intracoastal Waterway, is a saltwater body of water along the Atlantic coast that is rich with marine life.
You’re more likely to see a crocodile prowling this saltwater creek as alligators spend most of their time in fresh water ecosystems. But alligators are known to venture into brackish (water with a higher salinity than freshwater but less than seawater) sounds if they are in need of a meal. Alligators (like sharks) are opportunistic predators and will do whatever it takes to get a meal and eat whatever they can get their teeth into.
However, their time is limited in these waters. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, alligators are only capable of tolerating saltwater for hours, or even days at most.
They lack salt glands that pump high concentrations of sodium and other seawater ions out of their bodies. Young alligators have an especially hard time in saltwater, but the thicker skin of older alligators may provide better tolerance.
So it’s likely that this specific gator, who the locals have named Charlie, is on the older side. He’s known to lurk about in the summer as boats come in and fishermen clean their catch off the docks.
Watch the video below to see another shark suffer a similar fate, this time filmed in Australia. In this case, a fisherman caught a small shark, only to lose his catch to a hungry croc!
Click here to watch even more incredible shark-croc encounters caught on camera.