Bold Beachgoers Save a Stranded Great White Shark

surfer rescues shark photo
Photo: Ruth Fahey

At sea, sharks are one of the most fearsome and cunning predators on the planet -- but on land, even they need a helping hand sometimes. In a rare putting aside of differences, last week a surfer came to the aid of a Great White shark that had become stranded onshore. Risking life, and especially limb, he and another beachgoer worked tirelessly to return the ten foot long shark to the ocean. The brave rescue caught the attention of a photographer, who thought at first that the beached animal was a dolphin. "Then I got closer and saw it was this huge shark and just thought, 'Holy crap!'"

men help shark photo
It may have started off as a normal day at the beach for Andrew Eckersley in New South Wales, Australia, before he happened upon quite an usual sight -- a solitary surfer trying to save a beached Great White shark, large enough perhaps, to make a meal out of him if the two had met at sea.

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Eckersley, to the Daily Telegraph:

It was pretty scary at first. This guy in a wetsuit was sort of baling water on to its back by hand and digging out a hole for it on the ocean side. It was pretty big. I wouldn't have been able to put my fingers together if I was giving it a cuddle.

Putting his fear aside, soon Eckersley joined in the rescue -- but moving a ten foot long, generously-toothed aquatic killing-machine back into the ocean proved to be a bit of a logistical challenge. The two Good Samaritans first tried using driftwood to hoist the shark to sea. When that failed, they took a more hands-on approach, slowly pulling the Great White towards the waves.

The shark rescue may have been too much to believe if Ruth Fahey, a professional photographer, hadn't been there to document it. She explained to The Advocate what happened next:

It was still very sluggish when they got to knee deep water so the surfer waded it out until he was waist deep. The shark slowly swam away... much slower than the surfer exited the vicinity.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, this happy ending didn't last too long. The day after the bold rescue, the shark was found dead on the very same beach. To make matters worse, someone had chopped-off the Great White's jaws for a keepsake -- even though it's illegal to possess parts belonging to the threatened species.

Although the shark ultimately died, the whole experience is likely one that Fahey will not forget anytime soon.

It really did seem very menacing and yet beautiful at the same time. It was the first time I'd come that close to such a big shark, but what struck me as funny was that after helping it back into the water, the surfer then paddled back out to catch some waves.

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