Vet saves shark that swallowed hook

July 18, 2008 8:09:40 AM PDT
A veterinarian in Australia plunged his arm up to his shoulder into the throat of a rare shark to save the animal after it swallowed a grappling hook.

David Blyde reached between the jaws of the 10-foot gray nurse shark to dislodge the hook, which was stuck in the animal's digestive tract, leaving a long metal handle sticking from its mouth.

The gray nurse shark is generally much smaller than the more aggressive great white. It is also not considered a threat to humans, but its bite could still do serious damage.

Divers spotted the shark Monday as it swam with a group of others near Byron Bay, 500 miles north of Sydney, Trevor Long of the Sea World marine park said Friday.

After the animal was captured and placed in a holding tank, rescuers pushed a stiff plastic pipe into the shark's throat. Blyde then reach down through the pipe to free the hook.

"As a veterinarian you often end up putting your hands in places that people find somewhat unattractive," Blyde told Seven Network television.

The gray nurse shark is one of Australia's most endangered marine species after being fished to near-extinction, with some estimates running as low a fewer than 300 animals left in the wild in waters off the country's east coast.