By David Aspinall
A group of divers rescued sharks stuck in fishing nets but were too late to save one unlucky animal.
Kori Garza and Etoile Smulders were part of a group swimming off the coast of Papua, Indonesia, at the beginning of this month when they came across a group of fishing boats.
Spotting the stranded animals, the pair swam up and moved the nets enough to release the five sharks, before removing hooks in their mouths using their hands.
Unfortunately, they were too late to save all of them as one had already died, a tragic victim of the local fishing trade.
Kori, who runs Ladyshark Expeditions, said: “The fishermen don’t target the sharks.
“They have no interest in eating them or selling them, they’re just an innocent victim of bycatch.
“Accidentally hooking or netting sharks is actually a big inconvenience for them.
“They are not comfortable with handling live sharks, yet do not want to lose valuable fishing hooks, which are hard to come by in remote areas, so they won’t cut the fishing line.”
A day before, Etoile – who runs Found At Sea Collective – had spotted a dead shark hanging off the traditional fishing platforms, called bagans.
The following day, the group returned to the same place and that’s when they found this next group of sharks.
Etoile said: “We asked the fishermen to take the time to pull them out of the nets so that they could be set free.
“The fishermen allowed us to remove the sharks from the hooks and set them free as well.
“At the end of the week all seven sharks had swam off safely into the deep blue.
“The fishermen aren’t evil men, they aren’t monsters.
“They’re just trying to feed their families, so pointing fingers, and shouting hatred isn’t effective.
“Hopefully their perspective grew a little this week and I hope they continue to release any sharks caught as bycatch.”