A man walking on a South African beach recently had a front-row seat to a dramatic shark-rescue effort, after a couple of anglers mistakenly hooked and landed a juvenile great white, a protected species in the country. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, Lars Liedberg from Zimbabwe had just eaten breakfast at a shoreside restaurant when he saw a crowd gathering on the beach. As he arrived, two men were trying to get the shark back into the water and Liedberg was able to film the incident.

“I realized the fisherman was in the midst of an intense battle with some sort of fish and it had to be big,” Liedberg explained. “I saw the dark shape in the waves and realized it was a shark. The fisherman and another man pulled the fish in and it lay in the shallow water thrashing about while the pair tried to retrieve the hook.”

The men tried to right the shark, finally free of the line, and drag it back into the ocean, but struggled against the impeding waves and the shark’s constant thrashing. They were eventually able to get the shark to deeper water, though it took some time before it could swim off on its own. “It could have taken one of their arms clean off,” Liedberg said. “They slowly managed to get it in water deep enough for it to swim away but it remained lifeless. The crowd was standing in stunned silence waiting for it to move, myself included. Eventually they pushed it away from them into the deeper blue. All you could see was the beautiful tail fin above the darker deeper water. It must have mustered its last strength and its tail started moving and just like that the shark was gone.”

Targeting great whites is illegal in South Africa. It is unclear what the anglers were actually fishing for when the juvenile shark took their bait.