Steve Backshall learns about sharks. Steve snorkels alongside mako sharks off the coast of San Diego in California and gets under their skin in his shark lab.
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My name's Steve Backshall -
self-confessed shark obsessed.
This is Shark Bites.
This time we meet a shark that is super speedy.
The mako shark.
This toothy torpedo can clock speeds
of 50kph, making it the fastest shark on the planet.
Living out in the open ocean, and with a fondness
for fast-swimming fish like tuna, the makos can't hang around.
They need to move quickly.
But how have they evolved to reach such speeds?
San Diego, off California's Pacific coast,
is the perfect place to see these lightning-quick sharks.
As an idea of how fast they can go,
right now our boat's doing about 35kph.
Well, the mako does 50
and could cruise straight past us as if we were standing still.
Which makes them incredibly difficult to pin down.
I think we might have something.
Just a fin came up alongside the bait.
Looks like he didn't see it clearly enough to say
even that it was a shark, let alone that it was a mako.
There was only one way to find out.
It's coming right at him, coming right at him.
The two of them are patrolling around us.
One second they're there, the next second they're gone.
They just disappear into the blue.
As the pair of them circle around me, I'm completely blown away
by the ease at which they explode into these serious speeds.
I don't think I've ever seen anything like it.
It just always looks like it's on edge,
always looks like it's ready to burst out into speed.
So, what is their secret?
Not only are these sharks superbly streamlined,
with their cylindrical shape tapering at both ends,
the tail's crescent shaped, perfect for propulsion,
and the short fins help reduce drag.
But it's inside this shark that the magic really happens.
Most sharks are ectothermic - that means cold-blooded.
The temperature of their blood is the same as the water around them.
But mako sharks are endothermic.
They can generate their own heat from within.
The warmth that's created in their muscles by activities
like swimming and digesting their food can be retained
in vital areas like the eyes, the brain, the digestive tract
and the swimming muscles.
A perfect predatory superpower -
that's clear to see in these mighty marine torpedoes.
So, with its staggering speeds,
ingenious internal heating,
and exceptionally explosive power,
the mako is without doubt one super speedy shark.
Steve Backshall meets a superspeedy shark. Reaching speeds of 50kph, the mako is the fastest shark in the sea. With fast-swimming prey like tuna and mackerel, mako sharks need to move quickly. But how do they reach such meteoric speeds? Steve first snorkels with these lightning-quick sharks off the coast of San Diego in California, before getting under their skin in his shark lab to reveal their hidden speed secrets.