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Beachgoers aid in rescue of stranded great white shark

Rescuers used a rope to guide the shark out of the shallow inlet where it had first become pinned in by low tide.

By Brooks Hays

CHATHAM, Mass., July 14 (UPI) -- The new shark-friendly tone of Shark Weeks seems to be paying dividends already. On Monday, beachgoers in Chatham, Mass., kept a stranded great white shark wet until an animal rescue unit arrived on the scene.

The shark, a seven-foot juvenile male, beached himself while in pursuit of a scrumptious seagull along the barrier breach on Cape Cod's South Beach.

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"There was no way for the shark to get to where it could swim, so it just kept flapping and moving over," witness Kelly Skanell told WCVB.

As the tide ran out, the shark became drier and drier.

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"What we did once it was completely beached is throw buckets of water, because we thought that would sort of help keep it alive," Isabel Hegland said.

Both beach patrollers and Marine Fisheries officials eventually arrived to help. After tagging the shark, the officials were able to drag it back into the water using a tow rope attached to the shark's rear caudal fin.

When officials first got there, it didn't appear as if the shark was going to make it.

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"We were talking about how we were going to cut it up, and the next thing we know it starts kicking," state shark scientist Gregory Skomal told the Providence Journal. "It seemed to know."

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After dragging it back into the water, Skormal and rescuers hopped into a motorboat and used the rope to guide the shark out of the shallow inlet where it had first become pinned in by low tide.

"We walked it like a big dog," Skomal said.

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Skomal, who was out tagging sharks for his research when he was called to the rescue, said he was pleasantly surprised to find several dozen beachgoers gathered around the shark, helping to keep it alive. Thirty years ago, he said, beachgoers might have hacked it to death in a frenzied fit of fear.

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