Shark Bites Through Tourist Boat After It Interrupts It Feeding on A Swordfish

Whale watchers who were on a boat in an Indian Ocean holiday hot spot were left shaken after they came across an endangered shark that lunged at their vessel as it tried to protect the prey it was feasting on.

The boat operated by Naut'île Excursions Nautiques had left its base in the French overseas territory of Mayotte, off the coast of south eastern Africa. Located near Mozambique, Mayotte is a big attraction for snorkelers and divers.

The manager of the company, Jean Gaucher, said that those on board the vessel got more than they bargained for when shortly after the vessel had left the lagoon, they came across a floating carcass.

Mako shark
The mako shark (pictured) attacked a vessel which was taking whale watchers in the French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte. The shark had been disturbed after it was feasting on a blue marlin. Naut'île Excursions Nautiques

He told Newsweek that it was a meal the Mako shark was particularly keen to hang on to.

"As we approached, we saw that it was a dead blue swordfish which had just been killed by a Mako shark."

When the shark saw the boat "it tried to defend his prey and pierced the port side of the vessel with his tooth."

He said that those on the boat observed the shark for about 20 minutes before it bit the floating part at the rear of the boat. "It was amazing... We need a couple of days to repair the boat," he added.

Gaucher said the passengers were in no danger and that there was no urgency to return to the dock, insisting that the shark was merely acting out of instinct.

"This happens sometimes in this area, particularly in [the neighboring island] Reunion.

"The Mako shark defends its prey by keeping any potential predators at a distance.

"It is a very natural phenomenon that we observed, part of the natural order of things. Nothing dangerous happened, we only suffered a bit of damage," he added.

The mako shark is an endangered species and is often the victim of shark finning, in which fishermen cut off the fish's of while they are still alive to be used for shark fin soup.

The fish are then returned to the water but without their fins, are particularly vulnerable to predators and blood loss and suffer a drawn-out death, according to Sharks World.

In another French territory, a tourist was attacked by a shark off the coast of Tahiti last week.

The 35-year-old woman was swimming off Moorea island when an oceanic whitetip shark ripped into her chest and arms.

The woman was airlifted to hospital and has lost both her hands, according to AFP.

The number of shark attacks globally is relatively low, numbering between 70 and 100 annually, with around 15 of them fatal.

The U.S. currently has the highest number of confirmed unprovoked shark attacks to date with 1,441 reported attacks, followed by Australia (642), South Africa (255), Brazil (107) and New Zealand (52), according to the Florida Museum ISAF website.

ISAF said the best way to minimize the chance of a shark attack is to stay in groups, avoid being in the water at night or at twilight when the fish are most active and refrain from wearing shiny jewelry, which could attract them.