Researcher Explains Shark CPR That Saved Great White Off Cape Cod

One of the East Coast’s most prominent shark experts has explained the CPR he used to save a stranded great white on a Cape Cod beach earlier this week, the first he has seen in 30 years of studying the predators.

Dr. Greg Skomal credits the beachgoers who stumbled upon the white shark with its survival, pointing out that they managed to keep the animal wet without touching the potentially dangerous predator, as U.S. News and World Report explains. The seven-foot-long white shark was discovered on a beach in Chatham, after becoming stranded by a quickly lowering tide. Skomal says that the shark was likely feeding on a seal when a change in water level very nearly sealed its fate.

“The shark was at the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up high and dry,” he noted.

Though it is unclear how long a white shark can survive out of water, Skomal points out that death would result soon after the animal’s gills dried out, at which point it would no longer be able to breathe. The shark discovered on Monday survived out of the water for over an hour, but only because beachgoers kept it wet.

The Chatham harbormaster eventually arrived on the scene and dragged the white shark back into the water after tying a line around its caudal fin. Dr. Skomal says that he thought the shark was dead, as it appeared lifeless and unresponsive after being returned to the sea. Nevertheless, he moved its tail in an attempt to circulate blood and stimulate a reaction from the white shark. When that failed, Skomal and his compatriots moved the great white forward through the water, dragging it alongside their boat for 15 minutes.

“You want water to pass into its mouth and over its gills,” Skomal observed. “That will provide oxygen.”

[Warning: Adult Language]

The rescue team had all but abandoned their efforts, as National Geographic points out, and were devising an autopsy plan when the white shark suddenly sprang to life and began swimming under its own power. Though the animal moved away of its own accord, Skomal points out that its survival is far from assured, and that the shark likely has a 50 percent chance of full recovery.

Skomal, who as the Inquisitr has previously reported is involved in the second year of a white shark population study off Cape Cod, expects to receive data from a tag affixed to the great white on Friday, at which time he will be able to ascertain the shark’s condition.

[Image: Atlantic White Shark Conservancy via U.S. News and World Report]