Coastguard officers, the British Marine Life Rescue, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Scarborough Sea Life Sanctuary and volunteers tried to save the life of a young basking shark. The endangered shark was spotted in shallow waters heading towards the beach. The shark, which is not a threat to human life, kept returning to the shallow water despite the continued efforts of the rescue team. After a poor prognosis, the shark was put down.

The more than four-metre-long shark was spotted yesterday (Thursday, July 23) close to Yorkshire beach, south of Filey. The big fish seemed to be swimming towards the beach when rescue teams started their efforts to return it to deeper waters. Every time the rescue team pushed the shark into deep waters, it turned back towards the shallows.

While the shark initially had shown strength, as time passed it became weaker. Towards the end of the rescue mission, the volunteers had to support the animal to keep it from sinking. It also kept listing towards its right. It seemed disoriented as it kept circling in the shallow water.

After the prolonged struggle, a veterinarian was called in to check on the shark. Following a bleak prognosis from the vet, it was decided that the suffering animal had to be put down. The vet euthanised the young shark.

A British Divers Marine Life Rescue spokesperson told Hull Live that the shark was unwell and could have been brain damaged due to the lack of oxygen. Sharks obtain oxygen from the water that passes over their gills, when a shark is stranded for too long, it becomes oxygen-starved. The spokesperson speculated that the oxygen starvation could explain the peculiar behaviour of the animal. However, there could have also been other factors contributing to it beaching itself repeatedly.

The basking shark, which is the second-largest fish in the world, does not have rows of flesh-shredding teeth like most other sharks. The filter-feeding goliath feeds on zooplankton. Protected by the laws in the United Kingdom, the shark is on the endangered list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The death of the young male shark is a blow to the conservation of the species.

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A young male basking shark had to be put down after failed rescue attempts. (representational image) Museum Victoria