The charter boat was about 8 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. The animal swam furiously away and leapt out of the water, coming down with a gigantic splash.
That’s when those aboard realized it was a large mako shark, said the boat’s captain, Don Campbell. A shortfin mako shark, it turned out, that was more than 9 feet long and weighed about 550 pounds.
“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 aboard the Labrador Tuesday morning on a quest to find a shark, but they had not been expecting the big mako.
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 stern of the boat. They had to hit the animal 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 the rest 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 episodes involving fishermen.
Mandelman said the sharks can typically be 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.”