Labor Day beachgoers rushed to help a great white shark this weekend after the massive animal became stranded on a Cape Cod shoreline, but despite their efforts, it eventually perished after being returned to the sea.
The white shark was reported on White Crest Beach around 8 a.m. on Sunday, according to NBC News. Roughly a hundred people moved in to help the shark, keeping it wet as they waited for specialists to arrive and digging a trench to bring water to the animal. Representatives of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the National Park Service arrived on the scene and worked to drag the great white back into the water using a Shark Conservancy boat, yet the shark turned belly up almost as soon as it was returned to the ocean.
— HuffPost UK (@HuffPostUK) September 8, 2015
According to Dr. Greg Skomal, the great white had likely died before rescuers were able to move it back into the water.
“There’s only so much you can do — it’s a fish out of water. They’re basically drowning.”
— Lydia Shark (@RockStarLydia) September 8, 2015
The great white shark isn’t the first of its species to find itself in similar peril along the cape this year. Earlier in the summer, a juvenile white shark was found beached in Chatham, and rescuers were able to successfully return it to the sea. That shark nearly perished, but was revived when it was towed through the ocean, passing water over its gills. Though there was some fear that the shark stood only a 50 percent chance of survival, it was later detected by local acoustic receivers. Named Jameson by its rescuers, the great white shark has since been recorded multiple times in the region.
— The New Paper (@thenewpaper) September 8, 2015
While Jameson was a younger shark, the great white which passed away this weekend was a more mature animal, measuring 14-feet-long and weighing roughly a ton. Like many others of its species, the shark likely migrated to the cape in order to prey on the area’s abundant seal population, some of which were nearby at the time of the stranding. While researchers identified 68 great whites off the cape last year, so far they have documented 80 this season, as CBS Boston notes.
Dr. Skomal noted that the great white shark showed no signs of injury, and likely became stranded as a consequence of moving into shallow water to hunt seals.