Watch Fisherman Lose Their Minds as 600LB Mako Shark Performs Nine Flip Encore

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Short fin mako shark swimming just under the surface, about 50 kilometers off the Western Cape coast in South Africa.
© wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

Key Points:

  • Mako sharks are known for putting up fierce battles if hooked by a fisherman. They are highly intelligent and will pull out all the stops to free themselves.
  • Mako sharks can swim up to 40 mph and have the ability to vertically leap 30 feet into the air in pursuit of prey.
  • Watch this video where a hooked mako shark leaps repeatedly into the air in an attempt to break free from a tournament fisherman.

If shark acrobatics are your thing then this is the video you need to watch, and you may get as excited as the fishermen that witnessed it firsthand. Over a million viewers have already enjoyed this incredible scene. It was captured during a Flying Mako tournament which was a catch-and-release fly fishing tournament held in San Diego in July 2012.

The aim of the tournament is to promote sustainable fishing practices and management of apex ocean predators including the mako shark. Participants have to pay an entrance fee. Proceeds are donated to the Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research which carries out field research to address over-fishing and marine conservation in southern California.

Makos are one of the more aggressive species of shark and can leap 20 feet out of the water when hunting.

The Athletic Mako Shark

The shortfin mako sharks are the athletes of the shark world and one of the top gamefish in the world. They are known to be very lively and quite aggressive when hooked, typically launching themselves into the air and providing spectacular aerial displays. It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that they feature in so many videos and photographs.

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The area of the Pacific Ocean around San Diego is an important nursery zone for juvenile mako sharks. This species has a metallic blue or deep purple coloring and can grow up to 13 feet in length and weigh up to 1,250 pounds but the individual in this video was around 600 pounds. Despite their impressive size, they are very agile and can travel at speeds of over 43 mph.

They are one of the more aggressive species of shark and can leap 20 feet out of the water when hunting. In part, because their meat is sold commercially (it tastes like swordfish and is served in stews and tacos) they are endangered. Also, because they live off fish like tuna, overfishing is a threat to their survival.

There are accounts of fishermen being injured as a mako struggles free of a line – these guys do not give up without a fight!

Where Do Mako Sharks Live?

Fastest Water Animals

Mako sharks are found all over the oceans including the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

©iStock.com/Alessandro De Maddalena

Mako sharks can be found in warm and temperate ocean waters around the world, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean.

They inhabit coastal areas and offshore waters and can be found at depths of up to 1,000 feet. They are also known to migrate seasonally, moving to cooler waters in the summer and warmer waters in the winter. In fact, mako sharks are considered to be one of the fastest species of sharks, capable of swimming at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

Furthermore, mako sharks are apex predators and they are known to be opportunistic feeders, eating a variety of fish and marine mammals, including tuna, swordfish, dolphins, and seals.

How Long do Mako Sharks live?

Mako sharks can live for quite a long time, typically up to around 30 years in the wild. However, some individuals have been known to live for as long as 50 years.

Their maximum size can reach up to 4 meters (13 ft) and weigh up to 800 kg (1800 lbs). Mako sharks are considered to be one of the most highly migratory species of sharks, with individuals covering vast distances over the course of their lives.

Their lifespan and growth rate are not fully understood, but it is believed that they reach maturity at around 7-8 years of age and that males tend to have a shorter lifespan than females

The Longfin mako shark has an impressively pointed snout with very sharp and long teeth that protrude from their mouths.

The Longfin mako shark has an impressively pointed snout with very sharp and long teeth.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Spectacular Display

Despite being attached to a long fishing line, this shark gives us an astonishing display. Accompanied by the shouts and hollers of some very excited fishermen, the shark leaps six feet out of the water and does a backflip before crashing back down beneath the surface.

But what is so incredible about this particular scene is that the shark does it nine times in a row whilst moving gradually closer to the boat which prompts one of the fishermen to exclaim “Don’t let that thing on the boat!”

He didn’t need to be concerned! The Flying Mako tournament has a strict ‘catch-and-release’ policy and only barbless hooks can be used. Also, participants are not allowed to lift sharks out of the water. But for this particularly energetic shark, that would not have been easy anyway!

Is This Normal Behavior for a Mako Shark?

Mako sharks are ferocious fighters that intimidate many fishermen. With bodies built for maximum speed, they can reach speeds of 40 mph swimming and have the ability to leap 30 feet out of the water in pursuit of prey. But why do these giant leaps when hooked, as in this video?

Mako sharks are highly intelligent creatures. They are known to circle boats where fishermen have dropped lines, surveying the area and planning how to attack the bait. Once they are hooked, they will make all kinds of attempts to escape.

The vertical leap into the air is actually a strategy to free themselves from the hook, as they will purposely land on the line in an effort to break it. They will also at times ram or bite the fishing boat in their intimidating battle for freedom! So the answer is yes, this is normal behavior for a mako shark when hooked. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to go fishing in the deep!


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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