The world’s fastest shark is in trouble

Popular Science –

The shortfin mako is a strikingly blue, athletic shark with a dubious honor: its meat is considered delicious. While other species are spurned as being tough or unappealing, mako frequently shows up on restaurant menus.

“A lot of sport fishermen will keep mako sharks, but none of them keep a blue shark because blue shark meat is pretty gross,” says Michael Byrne, a wildlife ecologist at University of Missouri in Columbia. “It tastes like eating piss.”

Mako sharks are revered for another reason as well: they put up a tremendous fight for sport fishermen. The shortfin mako (Isurus Oxyrinchus) is the world’s fastest species of shark, swimming up to 45 miles per hour. The creatures also tend to leap dramatically when hooked. “They kind of jump straight up and twirl around,” Byrne says. “There’s been cases of people hooking them near the boat and then they jump and land in the boat.”

It’s no wonder mako sharks are so highly regarded. But the mako shark’s popularity is not doing it any favors, Byrne has found. He and his colleagues tracked satellite tagged sharks and saw that they were caught and died at rates 10 times higher than reports from fishermen suggested. This indicates that the sharks are being overfished, the team reported in August.

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