A critically endangered shark has been nursed back to health and released after it swallowed a large homemade bait spike and hook off Queensland’s south coast.
The severely injured female grey nurse shark was rescued from the bottom of the seafloor at a popular dive site near North Stradbroke Island.
“We were alerted to this particular shark by the diving fraternity up at Point Lookout,” Sea World Marine Sciences director Trevor Long told AAP.
“They thought that the animal had been speared by someone because it had a large metal rod sticking out the side, but when we got there we found that wasn’t the case.”
The shark had actually swallowed a long metal skewer with a Venetian blind cord and electrical cable attached to it.
The metal rod had gone straight through the animal’s stomach and the hook had pierced its jaw.
Mr Long estimated the shark had been there for weeks and had algae on its teeth, which indicated it hadn’t been feeding.
“It was going to die,” he said.
A rope lasso was put around the shark and she was brought slowly to the surface before being taken to a specially designed water tank at Sea World.
A veterinarian then operated and removed the spike and hook and stitched up the wound.
The shark stayed in a rehabilitation pool for a week before its release on August 14.
Mr Long is pleased with the shark’s recovery, given there are less than 1500 grey sharks off Australia’s east coast.
They have low reproductive rates, only breeding about every three years, so every animal is important to the species, he said.
Those involved in the rescue are confident the shark will survive, and have attached a tracker to monitor its progress.