A blue pointer shark was captured on video Saturday during an encounter with a sea turtle off the coast of Limassol, with local fishermen reportedly shooting the endangered mako shark in the head.
According to local media, a mackerel shortfin-mako shark trying to eat a sea turtle was spotted by a sea-loving amateur fisherman about one and a half nautical miles off the coastline at Lady's Mile beach.
The fisherman told AlphaNews Live that he saw a fin in the distance as soon as he left the harbour and thought to himself that there were dolphins in the area.
“But when I got closer, about 10 metres, I realized it was something bigger and it was trying to eat a turtle,” he said.
A 50-second-long video of the encounter, which he uploaded on Facebook but has since taken down from his personal page, showed the mako shark gliding through the surface of the blue water and attempting several times to grab the turtle with it's mouth, but to no avail.
The eye witness later said he was in the area for almost an hour, taking photos and videos, when he saw an inflatable boat with a group of fishermen nearby.
“As the boat was passing by, I raised my arms and signaled them to come over and take a look at the sight,” he said.
As soon as the inflatable arrived, one of the fishermen grabbed his spear gun and shot the shark in the head
But as soon as they arrived, one of the fishermen on the inflatable grabbed his spear gun and shot the shark in the head, he said.
“As the fish was making quick motions to get away, the retractable string broke off seconds later, and the shark took a dive and left,” he added.
Unconfirmed reports said the shark was killed while media reports speculated that it was merely wounded but had little chance of surviving.
It was not clear whether the sea turtle was injured prior to the shark encounter on video or whether it had survived the attack altogether. Sharks typically and primarily attack surfacing turtles from below according to available literature on the subject.
In response to the incident, the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research posted a comment on Facebook, saying the shark belonged to the Isurus oxyrinchus species.
The department also said the mako shark is known to feast on swordfish, tuna, other sharks, and squid, but will also eat sea turtles occasionally.
Officials also said the shortfin mako is a species threatened with extinction and is classified under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
“In the Mediterranean it is a protected species based on international conventions and legislation, therefore fishing for shortfin makos is prohibited,” the department said.
Reports said the amateur fisherman who first spotted the shark regretted the incident, adding that it was the first time he had seen a shark, let alone under the particular circumstances.