Australian girl proves a valuable fish friend in shark rescue


  • World
  • Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020

Billie Rea, 11, rescues a draughtboard shark trapped in shallow waters by an outgoing tide, before releasing it in deeper waters, near Kingston Beach, in Tasmania, Australia November 18, 2020, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Courtesy of Abby Gilbert/Social Media via REUTERS.

SYDNEY (Reuters) - While the words shark and Australia typically conjure up images of attacks on swimmers and surfers, 11-year-old Billie Rea didn't think twice in rescuing a shark trapped by the low tide in a rock pool and carrying it to deeper water.

"I've got a shark. Come on darling," the girl was heard answering her mother in a video shared on social media on Tuesday, as she plucked a draughtboard shark from a tidal pool on the edge of Kingston Beach, Tasmania, about 10 km (6 miles) south of the Australian island state's capital of Hobart.

"It's alright, it's alright," Rea cooed as she trod over mossy rocks with the brown-spotted shark in both hands before releasing it in open water.

Rea was never in danger as the draughtboard shark is a slow-moving, bottom feeder that mostly eats small shellfish.

"As soon as it came into view, I knew what it was and I knew that it couldn't hurt her," her mother Abby Gilbert, who filmed the rescue six days earlier, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"You saw in the video just how calm she is, and I feel like that animal felt so safe with her," she added.

Abby was more concerned with the wet rocks that Billie clambered across to get to the open water than the live shark in her daughter's hands.

"Just be careful because it's super slippery," Abby could be heard cautioning in the video just before Billie reaches the water's edge and places the shark into the sea.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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