Cobh postie Fergus O’Regan was working in the Belvelly area on the northern side of Great Island, about 6.5km from Cobh, around lunchtime when local resident John Guihan asked him for help.
Mr Guihan had spotted a 2.5m long blue shark, which would normally be found up to 12km offshore, in distress on the shoreline opposite his home.
The fish had beached itself and was thrashing in the seaweed.
You do see interesting things at work from time to time, but never a shark. It was a privilege to see one up so close,” Fergus said.
John said he noticed seagulls circling overhead and decided to inspect the shoreline.
“It was then I spotted the shark,” he said. “It was rolling over, trying to get back into the water, but wasn’t having much success and the tide was going out fast.”
John ran back home, donned a pair of wellies and grabbed a shovel, and ran back in a bid to help the fish.
“I was using the shovel to try and push it over, but it was quite heavy, and eventually, with the help of Fergus, we managed to get it back into the water,” he said.
It was belly up for a while. It was probably quite tired, but after a few minutes, it regained composure and swam off.
Mr Guihan, 71, who was born in Belvelly, said he has never seen a shark so far up Cork Harbour.
Blue sharks primarily prey on bony fish and squid and are normally found in deep water.
In a post on Cobh Edition’s Facebook page, SailCork’s Eddie English said: “It’s very unusual to find these in any shallow water — even more unusual to find one at Belvelly.”
The shark rescue comes a day after a 2.7m-long blue shark was spotted swimming in St Ives harbour in Cornwall, and after experts warned that great white sharks could be hunting in Irish waters within 30 years.
Ken Collins, a senior research fellow at Southampton University and a former member of Britain’s shark tagging programme, has conducted a study which shows sea temperature only has to rise by less than 1C for deadly predators such as the great white shark — immortalised in Steven Spielberg’s classic, Jaws — to move into our seas.
At least 10 new species of shark are predicted to become regular visitors to our waters by 2050, including black tips, sand tigers, and hammerheads, which are currently found on the coasts of Spain and Portugal.
Dr Collins’ research was commissioned by the National Geographic series, Sharkfest, which is being broadcast on TV this week.