Greg Skomal, a biologist from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, who helped with the rescue, told CBS Boston that when he and his colleagues approached the great white, it was "still alive but very sluggish, barely moving, so we put a tag on it, and then resuscitated the shark by putting a bridle around it, and with the harbormaster's help, put it out into deeper water where we were able to resuscitate it and let it go."
Shark Files: High-fiving a Great White Shark
A similar method was used to save a tiger shark last year in waters off of Australia.
Under normal conditions in the water, most sharks breathe using a process known as "ram ventilation." They rapidly swim forward, forcing water into their mouths and over their gills. The gills then extract dissolved oxygen from water and excrete carbon dioxide.
When sharks and other fish wind up out of water, their gills can gradually collapse under pressure. (In water, gills are near weightless.) Because there is not enough surface area for diffusion to take place, the shark cannot properly breathe. The great white on the beach was close to suffocating to death.
If the rescuers had just dumped the shark back into the water, there is a good chance he would have died. Similar to how scuba divers must decompress for a while after deep dives, sharks too take a while to recover from changes in pressure.
Skomal and his team therefore patiently "walked" the shark close to the water's surface, allowing oxygen to gradually enter his body again. The 7 ½-foot male revived and the rescue was declared a success.
An added bonus is that the shark now has an acoustic tag on it, providing Skomal and his colleagues a rare chance to track the movements of a young great white.