A prominent Southern California shark tagger has shared video footage showing a hooked mako shark he estimated to weigh at least 1,500 pounds.
"She was every bit of 13 feet, with a belly hanging down four feet," Keith Poe, a.k.a Shark Tagger, told GrindTV.
The girth resembled that of a large white shark. Poe said the mako was either pregnant or had recently consumed a sea lion or two.
The unusual video clip (above), posted to Facebook this week, shows the massive shark behind and alongside Poe's 32-foot boat. He had hoped to place a scientific tag in the apex predator, but it shook the hook after a 30-minute fight that included "some monster jumping flips."
Poe, who has caught and released hundreds of large sharks off Southern California, added that on the same expedition he encountered six other large makos, including one that was larger than the shark in the video.
Poe's tagging exploits – his mako trips are on behalf of the Marine Conservation Science Institute – come at a time when great white sharks are making headlines after dozens of sightings along the coast.
Interestingly, Poe said mako sharks are much more formidable than great whites from a ferocity and stamina standpoint, despite the white sharks' "legendary initial power."
"Comparatively speaking the white sharks are easier to handle once they’ve spent the majority of their energy," Poe explained. "Unlike a big mako shark, which never seems to shut off. And makos will hold a lot of energy back – they'll then suddenly come up and dump it on you. They're very smart and will analyze the situation, and then go ballistic when they think it’s the right moment to get away."
Poe wouldn't say where he was fishing because he did not want to alert trophy anglers.
But generally speaking, he fishes in offshore zones utilized by makos as they travel between the Channel Islands preying on sea lions and other sharks. (Poe said he once watched three sea lions and a bird being pulled from the stomach of a large mako that had been killed.)
Not a lot is known about the movements of these pelagic hunters, which is why the Marine Conservation Science Institute recently began using Poe to place SPOT tags in the larger females. SPOT tags provide scientists with real-time positioning of sharks and can last several years.
The MCSI has tagged dozens of white sharks and the public can track them via its Expedition White Shark app. Tagged mako sharks are being incorporated into the app as well.
Stated Michael Domeier, MCSI president and executive director, in a recent Facebook video post about a newly tagged shark named Jasmine (video posted above):
"We want to introduce you to Jasmine, our newest addition to our Mega Mako tagging project. This project specifically targets the largest size class of mature female mako sharks, to discover their migration pathways and preferred habitats. We completely depend upon our partner Keith Poe (aka Sharktagger.com) to conduct this work. He braves the elements and catches/tags these big beautiful girls all by himself. Notice that this girl decided to rip the rub rail right off Keith’s 32′ Bertram!"
More about mako sharks from GrindTV