The enormous mako shark caught off Southern California last Monday was not pregnant, a necropsy performed Sunday determined.
The reason the 1,323.5-pound specimen looked so fat, scientists said, is because it contained significant amounts of sea water, perhaps ingested during its 2-hour struggle with the Texas angler who baited the shark off Huntington Beach.
The mako shark also contained "a good mass of marine mammal (seal or sea lion) in there as well," said Chris Lowe, a professor of biological sciences at Cal State Long Beach.
Lowe and NOAA Fisheries biologists performed the necropsy.
The capture of the shark by Jason Johnston aboard an Orange County charter boat made national headlines, largely because it's a potential a world record.
The current record is 1,221 pounds. That catch was made in 2001 off Chatham, Massachusetts. The International Game Fish Assn. must approve Johnston's catch and that process takes weeks.
But the capture by Johnston also stirred debate over whether large female mako sharks should be killed, given that they're breeders and that mako sharks--like most shark species--are vulnerable to overfishing.
Even fishermen were critical of Johnston's catch because makos prey on sea lions and the sea lion population is so high off Southern California that the mammals, which routinely steal bait and game fish from anglers' hooks, are impacting sport fishing businesses.
Lowe said the mako shark Johnston caught had pupped recently, but he could not say how recently.
The shark's liver weighed 125 pounds!
The predator also boasted a healed scar inside its body cavity wall, "indicating that she had eaten something that perforated the stomach and then the peritoneum."
Lowe added: "Pretty amazing how these animals can withstand those sorts of things! All in all, a very cool specimen."
--Photo shows Jason Johnston (below left) posing with the 1,323.5-pound mako shark.