They’re going to need a bigger boat.
The group aboard the charter fishing vessel Lady Anne got quite the surprise off Monhegan on Aug. 27, when a 7-foot-long mako shark launched itself onto the boat’s deck, according to a Facebook post from Sea Ventures Charters.
“A once-in-a-lifetime experience!” the charter company said in the post, adding that the shark and a second mako were tagged and released back into the Gulf of Maine.
The shortfin mako is considered the fastest shark in the world, able to reach burst swimming speeds of up to 43 mph. It can grow to 12 feet in length and weigh more than 1,000 pounds.
Typically found far from shore, this shark is considered one of the greatest game fishes in the world, with its meat, fins and oil all highly valued. And due to its speed and size, it’s considered potentially dangerous to humans, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.
“They’re in the fairly rare category in Maine,” James Sulikowski, a shark researcher and leader at the Sulikowski Shark and Fish Conservation Lab at Arizona State University, told the Bangor Daily News in 2020. “And they’re typically going to stay more offshore. It’s a big fast predator so it likes to eat fast fish.”
That video from aboard the Lady Anne is evidence of that fact. The 20-second clip shows the shark flailing about in the water as the fishermen attempt to reel it in. The shark disappears beneath the water only to reappear mere seconds later soaring into the air and onto the boat, sending the crew and guest scrambling to get out of its way.
“Thankfully, no one on board was injured! Astonishingly, the mako was measured, tagged, nudged toward the transom door and released,” Sea Ventures Charters said in the post.
The mako is one of eight types of shark commonly found in the waters off Maine, including the small but abundant Atlantic spiny dogfish, to the mammoth basking shark, to the legendary and feared great white shark.
The Maine coast is at the northern edge of the great white shark’s range, but the fish are not commonly spotted off Maine. There are two to three sightings of great white sharks off the Maine coast each summer, according to the National Oceanographic Data Center, with recent recorded sightings off Harpswell in June, Wells in 2021, Wells and Bailey Island in 2020, near a popular Kennebunkport beach in 2019, near Stratton Island off Old Orchard Beach in 2018 and near Wells in 2017.
As the Gulf of Maine continues to warm, some scientists have said such sightings could become more common in coming years, particularly as the sharks are attracted to the resurgent seal population off New England.
In July 2020, Maine recorded its first fatal shark attack when a great white shark bit Julie Dimperio Holowach, 63, of New York City while she was swimming in Mackerel Cove off Bailey Island in Harpswell.