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World’s fastest shark spotted near Barcelona

An underwater photographer has recently captured footage of the world’s fastest shark swimming in the waters close to Barcelona’s coastline. This is the first time in over ten years that the shortfin mako shark – an endangered species that can reach speeds of up to 45 miles per hour – was spotted in the Mediterranean. 

This recent sighting was reported off the Garraf coast close to Barcelona by an expedition team. Underwater photographer David Jara, who captured the images, said that the shark was swimming “calmly” in the open waters and measured about eight feet in length. “We saw a large black shadow in motion,” he recounted. “We were a bit confused. But suddenly we saw something protruding from the sea. At first we thought it was a sunfish, but soon we noticed a dorsal fin. Then we approached, stopped at a safe distance, and he also approached the boat. It was impressive.”

Although, at first, Jara and his colleague Carlos Molina wanted to dive into the water in order to get close up footage of this amazing shark, they quickly realized it may not be very safe, and decided to remain in their boat. Later analyses of the footage revealed that the creature was indeed an endangered shortfin mako shark – a slick, spindle-shaped shark with a long conical snout and a mouth full of long, slender teeth that preys on fishes such as herring, mackerel, swordfish, and small cetaceans. Adults – known for their fighting qualities and ability to repeatedly leap out of the water – can measure up to 14.8 feet in length and weigh over 1,000 pounds.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has listed this shark species as endangered since 2019. The demand for shark fin soup, particularly in Asian countries, has significantly depleted their populations, with scientists estimating that approximately 100 million sharks are killed each year in commercial fisheries. Moreover, their slow growth, late maturity, and lengthy gestation has put them at risk of overfishing, leading to a 99.9 percent reduction in their global population since the 19th century.

According to Claudio Barria, a marine biologist at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Barcelona, this recent sighting is a good sign for the Mediterranean ecosystem, offering new hopes that perhaps the rampant destruction these sharks have faced over the past century is about to stop, and their population could once more increase.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer  

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