Paul Marshallsea, a 62-year-old tourist, wrestled a shark that was swimming toward a group of children and dragged the roughly 6.5-foot fish into deeper water.
“When I got the shark to just over knee deep he turned on me and just missed me with a bite,” Marshallsea told the BBC. “The shark nearly took my leg off in a split second – it was that quick.”
The entire scene was caught on video by an Australian news team that just happened to be filming nearby. Marshallsea is shown running into the water straight after the shark, which was able to pull him into the water before the tourist was able to wrestle it away. From there, coast guards were able to distract the shark enough to lure it back into the depths.
“Where this shark actually came ashore, it is shallow for about five or six yards, and a lot of babies and toddlers splash about there - it could have been very nasty,” Marshallsea said. “My instincts took over and I just grabbed the shark by the tail. I know it was dangerous but it almost looked beautiful – you have got to have respect for a beautiful animal.”
His actions even impressed an Australian coast guard spokesman, who told the BBC, “We don’t recommend manhandling sharks, but this gentleman did a great job.”
One lifeguard on the scene speculated the Dusky shark – which can grow up to 12 feet in length and weigh between 350 and 400 pounds – was dangerous because of its willingness to swim so close to shore.
“A shark beaching itself means one of two things, it wants to die because it is either really sick or because it’s really hungry,” Luke Turner said to Sky News.
National Geographic noted the Dusky shark may be able to survive for nearly 50 years but is slow to reproduce, a factor that – when combined with overfishing – means their protection status is listed as vulnerable.