A 9.8-foot grey nurse shark had a lucky escape from a slow and painful death after Australian marine experts removed a large steel fish hook embedded in its throat Wednesday.
Local scuba divers spotted the distraught female hiding near Julian Rocks in the Cape Byron Marine Park, off Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, and immediately alerted authorities, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported.
A crew of marine experts from Sea World on the Gold Coast, the NSW Fisheries Department and the Byron Bay Marine Park Authority set out Wednesday morning in an ambitious bid to locate and save the shark.
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Sea World director of marine sciences Trevor Long led the expedition on the theme park's rescue boat.
"We had an ambitious thought that we could find the shark and catch it and we were prepared to stay as long as it took," he said.
"We were extremely fortunate to find it on the first dive."
Three divers armed with strong rope descended to 46 feet in a bid to lasso the injured fish. Using years of practice, Long stalked her from above and dropped a lasso around her gills.
After a two-hour operation, Sea World veterinarian David Blyde removed the metal hook, called a gaff, from the shark’s jaws as four crew members straddled the animal to restrain it.
Long told the Gold Coast Bulletin: "Everyone was really tense because we knew something could go wrong at any moment."