When vacationers discovered a great white shark stranded on a Cape Cod beach this Labor Day, something strange happened. Instead of keeping their distance, or fleeing, the beachgoers banded together in an attempt to rescue the mighty beast.
Despite a frantic rescue attempt, which involved a crowd of roughly 100 people, according to the Boston Globe, the shark didn’t survive the ordeal.
The beached great white was reportedly 14 feet long, and the rescue effort began with concerned vacationers dumping water on the stranded animal.
— 7News Boston WHDH (@7News) September 7, 2015
As the crowd grew, others began to dig a pool around the beached great white. The pool was filled with water, which they hoped would help the shark breathe.
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— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) September 7, 2015
Unfortunately, simply keeping a great white’s gills wet isn’t enough to prevent it from “drowning” in the air. Great whites rely on a process called ram ventilation to breathe, which essentially means that if they aren’t swimming, they aren’t breathing.
The culmination of the rescuers efforts was caught on video, as the crowd dug a channel, tied a rope around the beached great white’s tail, and pulled it back into the ocean.
Robyn Schnaible, the woman who filmed the rescue attempt, which can be viewed above, described the scene to the Boston Globe.
“They created a little holding pool and dug a trench,” Schnaible said. “A lot of people were saying, ‘Oh my gosh, what are they doing?’ But he wasn’t feisty that I saw.”
An earlier attempt to rescue a seven foot great white, also beached in the Cape Cod area, ended with experts resuscitating the shark once it was back in the water. According to National Geographic, that shark may or may not have survived after that.
This shark was about twice as long, and it didn’t fare as well. Greg Skomal, from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, told the Boston Globe that this shark was probably dead before the would-be rescuers even got it back in the ocean.
A necropsy performed by Skomal revealed that there was very little the beachgoers could have done to save the stranded great white. The shark weighed approximately 2,000 pounds, and it showed signs of internal bleeding as it simply could not support its own weight out of the water.
What would you do if you found a beached great white shark?
[Photo by Dan Kitwood / Getty Images News]