THE sight of a shark washed up on a stretch of sand locals call Hungry presented more than a few challenges for professional photographer Ruth Fahey. And it wasn’t just any shark, it was a great white, no less!
Ruth grabbed her camera phone and captured something few Coffs Coast locals have ever witnessed.
“I was walking along Hungry Head Beach on Friday morning when I stumbled across the shark, well out of the water in the high tide zone,” Ms Fahey said.
Then the bizarre and nerve-jangling rescue attempt began as two men attempted to haul the ocean’s top predator back to safety.
“As it was threshing about, they tried first to dig the sand away beneath it to refloat it but ended up man-handling it back into the water. It was still very sluggish when they got to knee deep water so the surfer waded it out until he was waist deep.”
“The shark slowly swam away... much slower than the surfer exited the vicinity.”
After their bold and brave attempts, sadly, the story has an unhappy ending.
Possibly pursuing bait fish, the juvenile male somehow managed to beach itself again hours later and failed to free itself.
“I can confirm it was a great white from talking to the people who found it. We believe it may have come back on the beach sometime on Friday night,” said fisheries officer Nick Giles.
“I saw it on Monday morning and someone had removed the jaws. The great white is a threatened species and it is an offence to harm them and also to possess any part of them.
“The fine is $220,000, two years in jail or both. An anonymous surrender of the jaw would be a good thing to the fisheries office at Coffs Harbour Marina.” Ms Fahey, who returned to her home town of Urunga two years ago after working as a photographer in the outback, said the experience was somewhat surreal.
“It really did seem very menacing and yet beautiful at the same time. It was the first time I’d come that close to such a big shark, but what struck me as funny was that after helping it back into the water, the surfer then paddled back out to catch some waves.”