A Connecticut couple’s scuba diving trip in Rhode Island on Monday turned into a mission to rescue a baby shark.
Deb and Steve Dauphinais of Glastonbury, Connecticut, were diving on the sand flats off Jamestown, Rhode Island, when Deb Dauphinais spotted a 16-inch juvenile shark with its head stuck inside a work glove at the bottom of about 35 feet of water.
Deb Dauphinais, a dive instructor, said she thought the shark was dead, but when it twitched she motioned for her husband to come over and help.
“He came over and did his own little double-take,” she said.
She said her husband tugged on the glove, which seemed to be suctioned to the shark’s head, but it eventually popped free.
Deb Dauphinais said they were not afraid of being attacked by what appeared to be a juvenile Dogfish shark, but were cautious, in case it snapped at them.
“It kind of looked at both of us, didn’t look at all injured, got its equilibrium back and then swam off back to where it is supposed to be,” she said.
Deb Dauphinais, who has been an instructor for about 30 years, said this was not the first time she rescued a marine animal in distress. A few years ago she freed a black sea bass that was hooked on a discarded fishing line, she said.
“There are countless stories of underwater sea creatures being killed by underwater sea trash,” she said. “It’s an ongoing issue that’s near and dear to my heart. But these are the only times I’ve been able to save something, at least a shark, like that.”
According to the Marine Mammal Center, increased amounts of trash, especially plastics and fishing gear, are ending up in the ocean, “creating a threat of entanglement or ingestion for countless marine animals.”
Nearly 1,800 endangered marine animals have consumed or become entangled in plastic since 2009, according to a 2020 report.
The Dutch nonprofit Ocean Cleanup is on a mission to collect 90% of floating plastic pollution, includingcleaning up the Great Pacific garbage patch, a collection of plastic debris and trash twice the size of Texas.