If you came face to face with the shark from “Jaws,” what would you do?
Swim away? Splash the police chief? Find a bigger boat? I imagine it’d be a pretty heart-pounding encounter — one that any sensible person would be eager to escape.
What would make someone not only get close to that shark but actually grab hold of it — then drop it into a public swimming pool?
On Monday, Sept. 11, beachgoers at Australia’s Manly Beach, just north of Sydney, were stunned after a nearly six-foot-long great white shark washed up on the sand right next to them.
One man, Dan Korocz, was having lunch with his family when he spotted the great white; though it was a baby, the shark was quite fearsome. “When you see a real-life shark, it’s scary,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “I’ve got a four-year-old and a two-year-old and we went down to the waters’ edge and then it came in.”
But the shark wasn’t a monster — it needed their help.
Onlookers said the shark looked possibly sick or injured. It wasn’t trying to menace anyone — it simply couldn’t get itself back out to sea. Someone called a nearby aquarium, the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, which hustled to save the animal. Using a sling, the Sanctuary workers lifted the great white onto a stretcher, then moved it over to a nearby Fairy Bower saltwater swimming pool.
They got the people out of the water first, of course, but the shark’s swim in the pool drew quite an audience before “Fluffy,” as the shark’s been named, was loaded up in a tank in the back of a pickup truck and taken to the aquarium for observation.
Running into any wild animal can be scary, especially when it’s as infamous as a great white, but sharks have more to fear from us then we do from them.
Great whites aren’t the monsters movies and popular culture paint them to be. While sharks are potentially dangerous predators, they rarely attack humans. In fact, beachgoers have more to fear from random holes in the beach than shark attacks.
Plus, many shark species are disappearing, the victims of overfishing or bycatch. Yes, sharks are predators, but they help keep the ocean ecosystem in balance — the same way wolves help keep forests healthy.
In the end, the Manly Beach shark found it’s way back home.
The Manly Sea Life Sanctuary released the shark out over deep water on Tuesday, Sept. 12, and the rescuers are reportedly optimistic about its survival.