Mako — Swift, Smart & Deadly

The story of the pioneering research into the mind of one of the most dangerous yet perhaps the most intelligent of all sharks… The Mako.

Produced by NHNZ

Sharks embody our deep fears… and our fears of the deep. Because we fear them, we persecute them… yet it appears not all sharks were created equal. They are not all cold blooded killing machines. A few sharks are warm blooded; and may possess an intelligence far greater than anyone thought possible.

This is the story of the pioneering research into the mind of one of the most dangerous yet perhaps the most intelligent of all sharks … The Mako.

Fishermen call them vengeful sharks… they have the habit of attacking boats when hooked. Their streamlined muscular bodies give them speeds as fast as tuna as they patrol tropical and sub tropical oceans of the world. Unprovoked attacks by Makos are rare… but if provoked they may become man eaters.

Because of their power and speed Makos are unable to be studied in captivity and have long been considered too dangerous to approach at sea. However, two researchers are prepared to ‘meet their Mako’. Marine Biologist Craig Thorburn and film maker Mike Bhana take to the sub tropical waters off northern New Zealand.

Their small boat is at times surrounded by extremely large Mako sharks. Nevertheless, they conduct a series of experiments with fascinating and at times remarkable results… they have indeed found their smart shark. Their pioneering research culminates in a face to face mid ocean encounter, armed only with a dead fish. Along the way we see primitive blue sharks in robot-like attack mode and marlin herding schools of fish. The two researchers compete with big game fishermen for boat space in some of the best sports fishing waters in the world.

Using cameras on baited fishing lines they conduct ‘speed tests’ on Makos. Tests reveal an acceleration speed faster than the latest model European sportscars. This adventurous science story reveals unexpected insights into the lives of one of the worlds most maligned and dangerous creatures… which also happens to be the closest relation to the ultimate ocean predator, the Great White Shark.

The researchers conclude that the Mako can learn quickly, assess risk, allow itself to be handled (even ridden), and perform tasks. They are excited by the results and plan to continue their research.

Swift, Smart and Deadly. Makos are all these things and more …

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