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Injured nurse shark. Educated advice request

Discussion in 'Project AWARE' started by imind, Nov 13, 2013.

  1. imind

    imind Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Hi all, I hope this is the right forum.

    I just received this picture of an injured nurse shark down here at Puerto Vallarta, México. I really do not have much to comment on this except It really
    doesn´t feel right.

    Before talking to local organizations, I would like to have a better understanding of what help might imply, thus a couple of questions:

    1. By looking at the picture, can you make an educated guess as to the possibility of just pulling that knife out without further injuring this guy? Would it be better not to try helping him out?

    2. Has anybody interacted with nurse sharks on the wild and could comment on behaviour that should be taken into account while approaching?
    Appreciate your comments.


    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  2. Dsix36

    Dsix36 Solo Diver

    I really wish that I knew enough to offer the proper advice. I am only guessing that removing the knife would be the best option. My interaction with nurse sharks has been that they have never been even slightly aggressive and would prefer to stay away from divers.

    It really pisses me off to see pictures like that. There is no reason to injure a shark needlessly. I do not know the circumstances, but nurse sharks do not need a knife stuck in them.
  3. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    My feeling is that if the wound heals then it's probably best to take out the knife. If it were a human patient you would take the knife out. Given the location I would think there is little to no chance of the animal bleeding out so I'd personally try it.

    They lay on teh bottom a lot and are easily approached from behind. As soon as you touch it, the shark will take off and a nurse shark can go from 0-30 km/h over short distances in pretty much literally the blink of an eye. What you'll have to do is come up from behind and just get firm grip on the knife. When the shark takes off the knife will come out.

  4. Allison Finch

    Allison Finch Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
    While the rule of thumb, in the field, is to never remove an impaled object, that is assuming they are on the way to better treatment options. Pulling one out may open a wound that would bleed badly, endangering the victim, more.

    That said, what treatment is that shark likely to get? I guess I would have pulled the knife under the assumption that some internal healing had already been going on, and only more superficial bleeding would happen. However, it would still be a risk. Poor shark.

    Now, all I can say otherwise is.....WTF?!?! What diver, or human, would have done such an incredible ignorant thing?? Is it "MACHO" to try to kill a harmless nurse shark?? GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!
  5. thez_yo

    thez_yo Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Diego
    Ugh that's a heartbreaking picture. I'm not a veterinarian or marine bologist, but given that I've seen them hanging around under rock ledges, it might get stuck or make the wound worse if something that acts as a backwards facing barb (that knife) gets caught in an overhead, so there's an argument for taking it out.
  6. phoenix31tt

    phoenix31tt DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Trinidad and Tobago
    I interact with nurse sharks all the time, they usually allow you to come.close with no issues, but once they take off they're gone... So do it as Diver0001 suggests...

    Showed my vet wife the picture and her thoughts were that it would most likely cause more damage in than out as its very likely to snag on a ledge or be pushed further in

    Sent from my Nokia Lumia 920
  7. imind

    imind Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Thank you guys.

    I sent a link to this thread to some diveshops that visit the area continuously in case they meet with the shark. Hopepully they'll pick some interesting insights from you all.

    The local university's marine biology department has also been alerted and it seems some action plan is now on its way.

    I´ll try to keep you posted as of the results.

    Thanks again.

    Best regards.
  8. j2s

    j2s Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives:
    Location: florida
    Didn't look at the pic (mental pictures of things like that have a habit of staying w/me and causing sleepless nights)....But my experience w/marine life is they have incredible healing powers (w/no scarring, which science is still trying to figure out)......I've removed spears, hooks, netting, even a gaff etc. from many species and on several occasions seen them recover.......The odds are probably better for removal........

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