A little sharky miracle happened in Manly this week. A great white shark drew the public’s attention for all the right reasons. He wasn’t lurking, he wasn’t scaring anyone, in fact he had the sympathy of thousands of people, hundreds there at the scene, and many more via social media.
Fluffy, as rescuers named him, managed to find his way through our supposedly impenetrable shark nets into shallow water, and that appears to be where he got himself stuck.
After several failed attempts to direct him into deeper water, rescuers from Manly Sea Life Sanctuary moved him to the ocean pool at nearby Fairy Bower. The disoriented juvenile bumped into corners as he did laps of the pool, injuring himself in the process, so Sea Life staff jumped into the water to guide him.
While at Fairy Bower, word got out via Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat and crowds of people started to gather to watch him. Kids rushed over straight from school to see a great white shark up close and news crews followed close behind.
It was distressing to see the young shark – obviously unwell – try to come to grips with his surroundings, looking frightened and disoriented. But what was wonderful about this scene, is that these crowds of people, for once, were sympathising with a great white shark. They could see he posed no danger to the rescuers in the pool with him.
“These animals are stereotypically thought of as man-eaters and frightening animals that will attack for no reason, and nothing could be further from the truth,” said rescuer Sharnie Connell.
“At no time did that shark attempt to harm anybody at all even though it was distressed and disorientated,” she said.
And this is the message that came across on mainstream media as well. For once this shark wasn’t “lurking”, he was clearly not a man-eater: he was a sick and frightened creature, asking for our help. Hopefully the other message that people take away from this rescue is that shark nets clearly don’t work. Fluffy managed to find his way through them, all the way to the beach.
Later in the day Fluffy was moved to a bigger pool at Manly Sea Life Sanctuary where divers on roster watched over him all through the night, and the following morning he was taken four kilometres out to sea and released.
As the boat departed, a crowd gathered again to watch and farewell the injured shark, now looking much healthier after a night of rest at the sanctuary. And media has been amazingly positive! Here’s an example of coverage on Network Ten.
Let’s hope this event changes people’s perceptions of sharks – even just a little bit – and gives them an understanding that they are vulnerable creatures that deserve our respect – and protection.
If you liked this, you may also like:
- What you need to know about shark nets
- Let’s talk about sharks – in a good way
- Debunking the myth of the ‘rogue shark’
- Best places to dive with grey nurse sharks
- Manly Sea Life Sanctuary’s Shark Dive Xtreme