Mako—Friend or Foe?

Ian gets up close and personal with the deadly Mako at the Poor Knights Islands, 12 miles off the coast of New Zealand. Local residents fear new tourist shark diving operations are attracting more than their fair share of sharks—and that someone will be attacked. Ian tests that theory by leaving the shark cage to feed them first hand.

Produced by NHNZ

Around the world, more and more people are jumping into cages and getting up close to big hungry sharks.

But what happens when they attract some of the world’s fastest and most vicious sharks to a place already enjoyed by unsuspecting recreational divers?

Shark Gordon is about to find out.

Our no fear presenter Ian Gordon climbs a vertical wall of one of the Pinnacle Islands, known as the Poor Knights, 12 miles (19 km) off the coast of New Zealand to survey the area where the action takes place.

The same warm water and variety of marine life that attracts the sharks attracts divers, making this spot one of the world’s top 10 dive sites. But it’s also the scene of a possible showdown between sharks and people. Three thousand feet below the Pinnacles, circling a dive boat, are some of the fastest fish in the ocean–the deadly Mako shark.

The Mako that cruise here can be 14 feet (4.3 metres) long. Attacks on divers are rare, but the thousands of people who visit here every year have to live with the fact that they do happen.

Ian takes a dive to explore the species in this popular marine reserve while nearby first time divers gear up excitedly on a dive boat as the berley (minced fish bait) is released over the side. It forms a slick stretching out into the warm current.

The Mako are on their way.

Diving with Mako sharks is the ultimate adrenaline rush. It’s pretty safe from inside a dive cage, but with aggressive Mako around you wouldn’t want to be outside.

Ian discovers that more and more charter skippers are turning from shark fishing to shark diving.

Locals fear that these dive operators are attracting more than their fair share of sharks – that those sharks are going to hang around and, sooner or later, someone will be attacked.

Ian decides to get up close and personal with a Mako to see if there really is a potential problem. Getting closer is a thrill he can’t resist!

He climbs outside his cage to hand feed a Mako.

His experience tells him that Mako favour fish over divers, and can tell the difference, but one particularly friendly little fellow appears more curious than hungry.

Bearing scars and bite marks, probably from a larger Mako, this shark surprises Ian with its amazing acceptance of him. He is even allowed to examine some cuts on the sharks side.

But just when they’re having fun his mate gets nervous and so does Ian.

When the little blokes scatter it’s a sure sign that something bigger is on its way.

The odds are it’s bigger than Ian too. Time to get out!

An extremely aggressive 8 foot (2.4 metre) long female Mako lunges at the berley bag hanging over the side of the boat and the fun begins.

Episodes From This Series

White Tips of Osprey

30 mins / 2001

A Whale of a Shark

30 mins / 2001

Mako—Friend or Foe?

30 mins / 2001

Great White—The Ultimate Predator

30 mins / 2001

Thresher Shark

30 mins / 2001

Hammerheads

30 mins / 2001

Galapagos Sharks

30 mins / 2001

Grey Nurse — A Visit to the Nurse

30 mins / 2001

Prickly Sharks

30 mins / 2001

Hawaiian Tigers

1 hour / 2001

Port Jackson – A Family Secret

30 mins / 2001

The Sailor’s Nightmare

1 hour / 2001

Shark Attack

30 mins / 2001

Great White Bite

2 Minutes / 2007

Great White – The Ultimate Predator

2 Minutes / 2007

Feeding Frenzy

3 Minutes / 2007

Bull Sharks

3 Minutes / 2007

A Whale of a Shark

2 Minutes / 2007

Mako

3 Minutes / 2007