(CHATHAM, Mass.) — A juvenile Great White shark beached itself in Chatham, Mass. and was rescued by officials and beachgoers who frantically splashed the fish with water in an effort to keep it alive until help arrived.
Isabelle Hegland was on her uncle’s boat with her family when they spotted a small crowd of people hovering over what appeared to be a dolphin around 2:30 p.m. Monday.
However, upon getting closer to the small sandbar beach, they realized it was a 6-7 great white that had gotten itself into very shallow water.
The shark was in “two to three feet of water, thrashing around trying to keep its gills wet,” Hegland told ABC News.
As the tide went out, the shark ended up on the beach.
To keep the shark alive while they waited for the Harbormaster to arrive, people on the scene continuously splashed the shark with buckets of water, the video showed.
When Harbormaster Stuart Smith arrived on the scene, a boat was called for immediately to bring the shark back to deeper waters.
Cynthia Wigren of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy told ABC News that the shark was in very poor condition when she and her team got to the scene.
Efforts were centered around getting the shark back in the water and moving forward because white sharks need forward motion to irrigate their gills, Wigren said.
Once Dr. Greg Skomal, Senior Biologist for the Division of Marine Fisheries, had tagged the shark and tied a line around it, they brought the shark to the side of the boat and began dragging it forward.
Wigren told ABC News that the team became extremely concerned when Dr. Skomal let go of the shark’s back fin and the “bottom of the shark sank.”
Hope was renewed when Wigren noticed that the shark’s mouth was still moving. Dr. Skomal joked “it was as if the shark heard us giving up on him” because his tail started moving, a much needed sign of recovery. They gave the shark more line so it could move towards deeper water on its own.
Once the shark was swimming well on its own, they released it from the rope and followed it about a mile off shore, returning after having “done everything they could possibly do for the shark.”
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