If you were a surfer — that is, someone whose hobby is dressing in black, going in the water, and doing your best impression of shark bait — what would you do if you found your mortal enemy, a great white shark, stranded on a beach and struggling to survive?
For two men in New South Wales, Australia, the answer to this moral dilemma was obvious: try and save it, while staying away from the teeth.
Last week, Andrew Eckersley was enjoying a walk along Hungry Head beach when he came across a surfer trying to rescue a 10-foot-long juvenile male great white that had somehow become beached. Eckersley quickly joined in the effort, trying to lift the animal with a piece of driftwood.
Ruth Fahey, the photographer who captured the drama (above, and left), told The Coffs Coast Advocate:
…they tried first to dig the sand away beneath it to refloat it but ended up man-handling it back into the water. 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, the story didn't end well. The shark was discovered dead on the beach the next day, its jaws removed by someone looking for a grisly souvenir.
In Australia, it is illegal to possess parts of a great white, which is a threatened species. The penalty is stiff: a fine of AU$220,000 ($201,366), two years in jail, or both. With luck the perpetrator will soon turn in the teeth, or be brought to justice.
For more, check out Treehugger's take on the encounter.
Images: Ruth Fahey (via Treehugger)