The Big Blue Ocean Exploration

Choking shark saved in first-of-its-kind rescue

Divers off Australia use a clear-plastic sock to capture the grey nurse shark and take it to the surface to have deadly cord cut away from its gills

Grey nursery shark

Grey nurse shark with suffocating cord wrapped around its gills; photo is a screen grab from video report by 7News Sydney

Marine experts off Sydney, Australia, made a daring, first-of-its-kind rescue to save a grey nurse shark being choked to death by an elastic cord that somehow got wrapped around its gills and was acting like a noose.

The challenge was that rescue divers needed to capture the shark, belonging to the most critically endangered shark species, and bring it to the surface.

“When you’re dealing with a wild animal like this anything can happen,” Rob Townsend of SeaLife sanctuary and aquarium told 7News Sydney. “Their teeth are always on display and they are very sharp.”

How would they capture the shark? 7News Sydney has video detailing the procedure and amazing rescue:

The grey nurse shark was spotted off Magic Point, known as critical shark habitat. The shark’s labored breathing was a sign it was slowly dying.

A team of divers and a veterinarian from SeaLife used a clear-plastic shark sock and coaxed the shark into it. The see-through characteristics of the massive sock resulted in other sharks entering, too.

Grey nursery shark

Grey nurse shark is coaxed into a clear-plastic sock during daring rescue off Australia; photo is a screen grab from video report by 7News Sydney

Once in the sock, the injured shark was wrestled into a special stretcher and taken to the surface, where vet Rob Jones cut away the suffocating cord and gave the shark a shot of antibiotics to prevent infection.

“If we hadn’t intervened, I have no doubt it would have died, the elastic would have kept cutting deeper and deeper into the neck,” Jones told 7News Sydney.

The shark swam away, and though the wound looks pretty bad, officials said it should heal in a month or so.

Only an estimated 1,500 of the grey nurse sharks remain off the Australian coast, so saving one is certainly a commendable act.

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