When fishermen in South Africa accidentally caught a juvenile Great White shark – a protected species – it was a race against time to get the fearsome fish off the hook and back into the water before it suffocated.

As the drama unfolded at Plettenberg Bay, onlookers watched on in amazement as the fishermen struggled to get the shark into deep enough water. As the crowd cheered to see the shark being freed, there was panic as the dorsal fin appeared but didn’t seem to be moving. With encouragement from the beach, the shark’s tail began to move, but the ordeal had taken its strength and the waves pushed it back towards the shallow water.

Just as the fishermen thought they would need to once more come face to face with the shark, it summoned the strength to swim out to sea.

Watch the amazing fight for survival in the video above.