Fishermen land 9-foot-long mako shark off Provincetown

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The charter boat was about eight miles off Provincetown’s Race Point, in 300 feet of water, when something took hold of the fishermen’s bait.

The crew reeled the mystery fish close to the boat. But then it took off with the line. It swam away furiously and leapt out of the water, coming down with a gigantic splash.

That’s when those aboard realized it was a big mako shark, said Don Campbell. A shortfin mako shark, it turned out, that was more than 9 feet long and weighed about 550 pounds.

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“It was a big battle,” said Campbell, who has been fishing for 30 years but has never before caught a mako. “It was a lot of fun.”

Campbell, his crew, and three guests had left Scituate Harbor Tuesday morning on a quest to find a shark, but they hadn’t been expecting the big mako.

Don Campbell, captain of the Labrador, displayed the mako shark’s impressive teeth. (Chuck Davis and Linda Grindle)

The struggle to get the shark on the boat lasted an hour and a half. At the end, Campbell and crew struggled to pull it onto the rear of the boat. They had to hit it with a tuna harpoon to subdue it as they brought it aboard, he said.

After returning to the harbor, Campbell and crew cut up the shark, saving some for themselves and giving some away to people walking along the harbor.

“They’re delicious,” he said. “It’s like swordfish.”

The shark was unusually large for a male of the species, he said.

Tony LaCasse, spokesman for the New England Aquarium, said people are “not really on the menu” for mako sharks, but they can be a threat because of their size.

“Fishermen can get hurt handling them,” he said.

John Mandelman, a research scientist at the aquarium, said that since the 1980s, there have been 30 or 40 mako shark attacks, with many of the incidents involving fishermen.

Mandelman said the sharks can be typically found in deep water offshore and rarely come into Massachusetts Bay.

“It was a big day,” said Campbell. “It’s a very, very powerful shark. A great predator.”

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