Photo Credit: sunnyskyz.com
The residents of Cape Cod are used to shark sightings, after all “Jaws” was filmed just across the water on Martha’s Vineyard – AKA Amity Island in the movie. That might be part of the reason beachgoers at South Beach in Chatham knew just exactly what to do when they discovered a stranded great white shark thrashing in the hot sun – they didn’t touch the animal, but used buckets to splash the 7-foot shark with water until officials could get there to tow it back into open water.
Stuart Smith, Chatham’s harbormaster, told the AP that when he arrived at the scene, about 40 people had gathered around the shark that appeared to be dead.
Smith and Dr. Greg Skomal, of the Division of Marine Fisheries, went into action, according to the Providence Journal. Skomal told the Journal, “We walked it like a big dog.”
The crowd on the beach cheered as the team assisted the shark back into the water. They first made sure that the shark had recovered from the trauma, and then they slowly escorted it by boat, ultimately setting it free about a mile offshore.
Skomal, a senior marine fisheries scientist for the state, said the shark was swimming in shallow water when the tide dropped quickly. He says that larger basking sharks sometimes get stranded but usually white sharks don’t. Apparently, this was a juvenile who learned its lesson the hard way – he’d been trying to chow down on seagulls along the shore.
Once back in open water, the shark was swimming on its own and appeared to be doing well.
You can watch the incident unfold here: