BEER CANS, BUT NO ULCERS
Makos will hit almost anything. Though generally fish eaters, strange objects such as beer cans, soda bottles, chum ladles and chunks of wood occasionally appear in their stomachs, which apparently are untroubled by minor human ailments, such as ulcers.
They have four distinct rows of teeth, razor sharp, curving inward toward their throats. It's a formidable collection?once the jaws clamp, the angle alone makes it impossible for the prey to escape. Auxiliary molars are set in the jaw cartilage. If a tooth breaks off in something tough, another moves forward to take its place.
The mako's natural enemies are porpoises and swordfish. The sharks are fond of young porpoises. Schools of porpoises retaliate by ganging up on solitary sharks. Using its cylindrical snout as a battering ram, a bull porpoise will smash into a shark while doing approximately 40 miles an hour. Others meanwhile keep the shark busy by taking little nips and herding the carnivore into position for the knockout punch. A direct hit means immediate disembowelment for the shark.
Swordfish and makos are implacable enemies. One 730-pound shark was recently captured with a small swordfish, snout still attached, inside the mako's stomach. Another recent incident involved a struggle between two-large fish. It happened off Shinnecock Inlet, Long Island, within 50 feet of a charter boat. The swordfish slashed at the shark, churning the water white. The encounter ended when the mako sheared through the sword's tail with one bite. The helpless billfish, unable to navigate, was leisurely eaten by the mako. Then the shark took a squid bait for dessert. At the rack it weighed in at 745 pounds.
One thousand pounds is the IGFA ( International Game Fish Association) all-tackle world-record mako. But fish over 300 pounds are not commonly caught. Frank Mundus chums little fellows off Montauk with the regularity of guppies rising for food in a fish bowl, but he admits to being mystified by the habits of the real monsters. Chartermen spot them finning occasionally. A few are taken on large marlin baits while trolling, but the big makos are seldom chummed. No one can tell you why.
Frank Mundus dates his interest in monster fishing from the day a mako grabbed a bluefish on one of the Cricket's lines. The startled angler struck the fish. Two hundred pounds of cobaltic mako rose in the air. Once, twice?three times!
"I've got him!" the enraptured angler shouted. Bluefishing had suddenly become tame.
"He's got you," Mundus observed succinctly as the line parted.
But the talk was of makos through the rest of the trip. Frank told yarns of his hand-lining days, when commercial fishermen keg-lined sharks and blasted them with a double-barreled shotgun. Mako steak is good eating and tastes like swordfish. Off Long Island waters, even a fisherman with a one-trip budget can count on sharks rising to a chum streak. Skipper Mundus talked himself into a business.