Whale watchers got the fright of their lives after an endangered mako shark attacked them and took a bite out of the boat they were on.

The shark was protecting prey it was feeding on when the boat interrupted in resulting in the aggressive response.

The boat, which is operated by Naut’ile Excursions, was floating in waters off the French overseas territory of Mayotte. Mayotte is one of the big attractions for snorkelers and divers alike.

The manager of the shipping tour, Jean Gaucher, claimed the passengers on board the vessel got more than they were bargaining for when shortly after the vessel had left the lagoon, they came across the floating carcass the shark was eating.

Clearly, the shark was keen to hang on to its quarry, and the boat must have seemed like another predator trying to muscle in and scare the Mako shark away.

Gaucher told media outlets that as they approached, they could see it was the body of blue swordfish which had just been killed by the shark.

Gaucher added that when the shark saw the boat, it tried to defend its catch and bit into the port side with its tooth. The passengers observed the shark for 20 minutes before it bit the rear of the boat.

The passengers were at risk, and there was zero-urgency to return to the dock. The assumption was the shark must have been acting from instinct and had no intention of going after the passengers.

He claimed it was not the first time it had happened as Mako shark attacks on boats had been recorded in the neighboring island of Reunion. The sharks tend to defend their prey against potential predators even if they are approaching from a distance.

That is why Gaucher urged the passengers to be calm. He claimed it was a natural phenomenon that they observed, considering the situation was not dangerous for anyone onboard.

His boat was out of commission for days, however.

The mako shark has been recorded as an endangered species and is often a victim of finning where trawlers and fishermen cut off the fins while they are alive.

Their fins are ingredients in high end soup. They are first caught and definned. Then, they fish are returned to the water, but their vulnerability leads to death soon afterward.

Some states, including Washington, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Guam have banned the sale and possession of shark fins, and more territories are adopting regulations against their distribution.

Shark Pixabay