11-year-old Australian girl rescues shark trapped in rock pool

Billie Rea carrying a draughtboard shark across rocks before releasing it in deeper water, on Nov 18, 2020.
Billie Rea carrying a draughtboard shark across rocks before releasing it in deeper water, on Nov 18, 2020.PHOTOS: REUTERS/COURTESY OF ABBY GILBERT

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - While the words shark and Australia typically conjure up images of attacks on swimmers and surfers, 11-year-old Billie Rea didn't think twice before rescuing a shark trapped by the low tide in a rock pool and carrying it to deeper water.

"I've got a shark. Come on darling," the girl was heard answering her mother in a video shared on social media on Tuesday (Nov 24), as she plucked a draughtboard shark from a tidal pool on the edge of Kingston Beach, Tasmania, about 10km south of the Australian island state's capital of Hobart.

"It's alright, it's alright," Billie cooed as she trod over mossy rocks with the brown-spotted shark in both hands before releasing it in open water.

Billie was never in danger, as the draughtboard shark is a slow-moving bottom feeder that mostly eats small shellfish.

"As soon as it came into view, I knew what it was and I knew that it couldn't hurt her," her mother Abby Gilbert, who filmed the rescue six days earlier, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"You saw in the video just how calm she is, and I feel like that animal felt so safe with her," she added.

Ms Gilbert was more concerned with the wet rocks that Billie clambered across to get to the open water than the live shark in her daughter's hands.

"Just be careful because it's super slippery," Ms Gilbert could be heard cautioning in the video just before Billie reaches the water's edge and places the shark into the sea.