For close to 30 years, Keith Poe has promoted the conservation of and conducted research on some of Earth’s most fearsome creatures: sharks. While most find sharks of all shapes and sizes to be terrifying, fleeing at the mere sight of them, Poe can be found hand feeding, petting, and naming these awe-inspiring yet deadly animals. From great whites to threshers to mako sharks, no fish is too fierce for Keith Poe.
His conservation efforts began in the mid-’90s, deploying conventional tags with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Today, he’s known professionally as “Keith Poe Shark Tagger,” teaching countless fishermen appropriate tag and release methods and honing his skills through tagging thousands of sharks in the Pacific.
His most recent adventure brought him toe-to-fin with a huge mako shark looking for a bit of amusement. The encounter begins with Poe dipping a fish tied to a rope into the dark ocean waters, a mako shark calmly waiting below.
The acts in this video are preformed by a 30 year professional shark tagger doing permitted research do not attempt.♬ Angry Again – Megadeth
The 12-foot shark gently grips the fish between its razor-sharp teeth, perhaps not expecting a challenge. Poe then taps the shark on the head, however, and the competition begins.
With all its might, the shark attempts to wrench the rope from Poe’s hands and take the fish for its lunch. Hilariously, the resemblance between the shark and a dog with a chew toy can’t be missed.
There was no hook or other ensnaring device attached to the rope, by the way. The shark could have abandoned the game of tug of war at any time. Instead, it continued the wrestling match for several moments before relinquishing its hold on the easy prey.
Shark Tagger Keith Poe Explains the Difference Between Mako Sharks and Great Whites
Through his tagging excursions on behalf of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, Shark Tagger Keith Poe has come across every type of shark the Pacific has to offer. And in that time, he’s made some interesting, unexpected observations.
For example, great white sharks are synonymous with ferocity and power. When you think of the most terrifying shark possible, a great white likely comes to mind. According to Poe, however, the great white’s “legendary initial power” has nothing on the mako shark when it comes to stamina.
“Comparatively speaking, the white sharks are easier to handle once they’ve spent the majority of their energy,” Poe explained. “Unlike a big mako shark, which never seems to shut off. And makos will hold a lot of energy back.”
“They’ll then suddenly come up and dump it on you,” he continued. “They’re very smart and will analyze the situation. And then [they] go ballistic when they think it’s the right moment to get away.”
Keith Poe is set to appear in several episodes of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, beginning July 24. He can also be found in the National Geographic documentary Counting Jaws. In it, he and the MCSI team examine a great white shark aggregation off the coast of California.