We’re going to need a bigger boat: the rise of the megashark

We’re going to need a bigger boat: the rise of the megashark

Tiger sharks and great whites are taking advantage of protected no-fishing zones and growing to monstrous proportions

Supersized … a great white shark.

Name: Megasharks.

Age: An emerging phenomenon.

Appearance: Like sharks, but bigger.

Are we talking about loan sharks and other dodgy types, or the fish they are named after? Actually, the fish was named after them in the 16th century. “Shark” is a Dutch word meaning predator or scoundrel.

What were sharks called before that? Sea dogs.

So we’re talking about large sea dogs? We’re talking about tiger sharks a third longer than normal, and some of the biggest great whites ever recorded off Hawaii – up to 20ft (six metres).

The great white in Jaws was 25ft. The great white in Jaws was a latex puppet – 20ft is a very big shark.

What’s causing them to reach such monstrous proportions? Protected no-fishing zones.

How does that help? The sharks are taking advantage of the newly abundant food sources found in such areas.

But those zones are meant to be protected! The fish are being lied to! The supersizing has also been partly attributed to the creation of new shark protection measures.

Why do sharks need protecting? They’re endangered. But a 16ft tiger shark called Kamakai was recently spotted in a shark sanctuary off the coast of French Polynesia.

A shark sanctuary? “A safe haven,” says the marine biologist Kori Burkhardt, “where a shark like Kamakai can birth a new generation of mega tiger sharks.”

We try to help the sharks, and this is how they repay us? This is supposed to be good news.

It doesn’t sound like good news, lone megasharks roaming the oceans and eating the legs off hapless female night swimmers. The megasharks aren’t so lone, according to a new National Geographic documentary.

What are you talking about? In the documentary, three great whites were filmed eating a single whale carcass.

And that’s unusual? “Finding one white shark and a whale, sure,” says the marine biologist Dr Chris Lowe. “Getting three large female sharks on a whale, that’s different.”

Oh my God – different from what? “These sharks must have been close enough in the vicinity to detect the odour of that whale; then it also might mean that these sharks are travelling together.”

The megasharks are hunting in packs? Is that what he’s saying? “It’s something we’ve never been able to study or understand,” he says.

Oh great. Yes – great news for great whites.

Do say: “We’re going to need a bigger boat, from which to observe these miracles of nature in situ.”

Don’t say: “Close the beaches!”