In a video that went viral, an unidentified man was filmed fighting the waves and the thrashing tail of a gray shark as he worked at landing it on the sandy shore of a Long Island beach yesterday (August 15).

Given that shark attacks have increased over the past two years in a spot that before then rarely experienced such events, an encounter between shark and man is perhaps not surprising. But usually, it is the shark that attacks the man and not man-attack-shark.

But was he attacking the shark? Did he have malicious intentions? In the past, there have been a few cases of men pulling sharks out of the sea onto a beach just to photograph themselves with them.

That might be a reasonable assumption in this case as well, since a few seconds into the video, the shark managed to break free and headed out to sea. Then we see the man pulling at a cord and, with it, the shark.

The New York Post spoke to Emily Murray, the eyewitness who happened upon the incident and filmed it. Her exclamation, “Holy Sh*t!” is clearly heard on the recording. She continued to record until the man asked for a bolt cutter.

He had been out fishing and it is doubtful that he had intended to hook a shark. Since the shark was apparently unable to release itself, the man dragged him onto the beach. With the help of another person, the fisherman unhooked the shark and he was set free to return to the sea.

The Post reports that Long Island beaches and others along the East Coast are experiencing a surge of shark sightings and attacks. In July there were two incidents here at Fire Island Beach. In one, a lifeguard was bitten on the chest and hand by a five-foot-long shark and in the other, a surfer was bitten in the leg by a four-foot shark. Both recovered from their injuries.

The beach remains open to swimmers despite the increased shark sightings. Murray told the Post that she feels people have just got used to seeing sharks.