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Great white shark caught in Rhode Island

This shark was caught off the coast of Rhode Island on July 29. The fishermen released it back into the water.Michael Lorello

A great white shark that was caught off the coast of Rhode Island and released back into the wild has gone viral on social media.

Since fisherman Michael Lorello posted photos and videos of the shark on Facebook Sunday afternoon, they’ve been shared over 22,000 times.

The fishermen inadvertently caught the 6-foot-long great white shark three-quarters of a mile from Misquamicut Beach, according to Lorello’s Facebook post. The video shows the shark on the boat and the crew releasing back it into the water, still alive.

Lisa Natanson, a research fisheries biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the fact that the shark was caught is “not surprising.”

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“They’re in the area, and they do get caught in nets on occasion,” she said.

One of Lorello’s videos shows the shark thrashing around on board the vessel, and a second clip shows the crew using a crane to lift the shark up and drop it back into the water.

“Plenty of life in him!” says the voice of a man narrating the video.

Another great white that got caught in a net recently was not as lucky. On Saturday the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy posted photos of a great white shark that had died after being caught in a gill net.

The shark had been killed unintentionally, and by making the body available to scientists to study provides information that “is very valuable to us,” she said.

Natanson said she dissected the shark on a dock in Scituate and collected samples for further testing. The shark measured over 9 feet long and weighed 657 pounds, she said.

“It was an immature female,” she said. “It had a seal and a striped bass in its stomach.”

The photos of the dead shark caused an uproar on social media, as some observers found the images of the shark’s body hanging upside down on a dock in Scituate to be offensive.

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But Natanson pointed out that the fishermen did nothing wrong, and the fact that they brought the shark’s body back to shore for research purposes was “definitely going the extra mile,” she said.

“They didn’t have to do that,” she said.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.