10/31/2017 15:47 EDT | Updated 10/31/2017 16:25 EDT

Failed Shark Rescuers In Nova Scotia 'Kind Of Crazy': Witness

"They pushed him out a little bit further to see if they could get him back to life."

Gerge Shaw/ Stringer USA / Reuters
The porbeagle shark species was nearly fished to extinction in the Atlantic during the 1960s. One of these sharks was photographed on July 31, 2007.

Three men leaped into the chilly Atlantic Ocean on the weekend to try and drag a shark that became stuck in the shallows of a Cape Breton beach back out to open water.

"My personal opinion is that they were kind of crazy," said photographer Sean O'Connell, who witnessed the night-time rescue attempt from Inverness Beach.

"The thing comes back to life and turns and wants to have a nibble, they were right there waiting for him."

My personal opinion is that they were kind of crazy.Sean O'Connell, photographer

O'Connell said the men donned headlamps as they pulled on either side of the shark and pushed from behind, guiding it back out to sea on Saturday night.

"These three guys had went in the water, trying to drag the shark back out about 40 feet into the deeper water, trying to get him back moving," said O'Connell, 33, who watched the rescue attempt with his two young daughters.

"He was already moving a bit in the shallows, but they pushed him out a little bit further to see if they could get him back to life."

Shark went 'belly up,' washed ashore

O'Connell said their efforts were not successful, as the 2.3-metre shark went "belly up" once it was in deeper waters and it washed ashore the following day.

A statement from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said officials went to the site Monday morning and identified it as a porbeagle shark, a toothed shark that is common in waters off Nova Scotia. Its website said the species are commonly spotted between May and October.

No autopsy on rare dead shark

The department added that it does not plan to conduct a necropsy or take samples.

O'Connell said he admired the selflessness of the shark's would-be rescuers, but added that he likely wouldn't have done the same.

The Cape Breton native said he's never seen a shark so close to shore on the island before, and its carcass has been drawing spectators to the sandy beach.

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