Shark Hooked Through Eye Saved By 'Custom-Made Sock'
A Grey Nurse Shark has full vision again after a daring rescue to remove gang hooks caught in its jaw and eye.
The SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium was alerted by a member of the public after the juvenile female shark had been spotted swimming near Bushrangers Bay, in the NSW Illawarra region.
Aside from causing the shark pain, the Aquarium said the hook could cause infection or becoming caught on debris and netting.
A dive team of five located the shark swimming in the bay last week to conduct a rescue mission to remove the hook from its eye and jaw.
In difficult conditions, the team worked to herd the shark into a 'custom-made sock'.
Video of the rescue shows a number of other Grey Nurse Sharks swimming around the team as they searched for the stricken creature.
After a few near-catches, the shark was eventually caught and taken on board a boat.
It took just one minute for the Aquarium’s resident vet, Dr Michael Cannon, to remove the hooks from the shark's eye and jaw.
Rob Townsend, Marine Scientist at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, said the shark was given antibiotics and vitamins before she was released back in to the wild.
"It is always heartbreaking to hear of animals in distress, particularly when dealing with the young female of an Endangered species," he said.
"Predators such as Grey Nurse Sharks rely heavily on their vision, so to be able to save the sight of this animal was really rewarding for all involved."
Townsend added that the commonly-used gang hooks can have "devastating effects" on wildlife.
“Our advice is to avoid using stainless steel tackle and use barbless circle hooks instead,” he said.
The SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium was granted approval in October 2019 by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to perform rescues of the Critically Endangered Grey Nurse Sharks in specified waters.
The DPI and Aquarium have collaborated on two successful rescues since then, and Dr Trevor Daly, Senior Fisheries Manager DPI, said it had been "rewarding" to work in the collaborations.
"Grey Nurse Sharks are Critically Endangered on the East Coast of Australia, so it was particularly important that the hooks in this shark were removed and it was released back into the wild in the hope that it will breed and support the recovery of the species,” he said.