Watch: Diver rescues shark trapped on reef by fishing gear

·2 min read

A dive instructor in Hawaii capped a recent expedition by saving the life of juvenile whitetip shark in a dramatic rescue that was caught on video.

The accompanying footage, captured by Rachel Gillis, shows the shark tethered to a coral head by fishing line, with the hook attached to a steel leader in its mouth.

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David Prutow, of Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures, spotted the shark resting on the sand next to the coral at Horseshoe Reef off Hawaii’s North Kohala Coast.

Prutow hoped to remove the hook, but the shark became aggressive during the effort.

“Initially I thought I could try and unhook the shark as it was obviously in distress and not moving,” Prutow told FTW Outdoors. “It was tangled and pinned to the coral head with wrapped line. I wasn’t too thrilled with that [first] attempt so I had to back off and wait for it too settle to try and cut the line as close to it’s mouth as possible.”

Prutow added: “It was a little sketchy, but I was confident I could help without getting hurt.”

In the video the shark swims away after the leader was cut. Prutow said he expects the hook to work its way from the shark’s mouth over time.

Kate and Jaycee Butler are the divers observing the rescue in the video.

Kate described the encounter: “Our group of four divers were about five minutes from the end of the dive when we came across this juvenile whitetip shark. It took a moment to register why it was not swimming off. Once I realized what I was looking at, my heart sank. It was entangled and could barely move.

“Dave didn’t hesitate and immediately went to work.  At one point in the process, the shark came back to life and it looked like Dave might get bit as he worked to remove the hook and cut the line.  It was a huge sigh of relief when we could see the line was finally cut with no injury to Dave or the shark, and the shark had enough energy to swim off towards the deep.

“That shark would surely have died had we not come across it.”