The rare sighting of a shortfin mako shark is another sign of the incredible marine biodiversity found in Sabah, particularly here.
The experience was shared on social media by tourist Sylvian Kok and her friends off Mabul island here at the end of last year.
In the viral footage, the species was swimming beside the tourist boat and feeding on the carcass of a billfish in the shallow waters around Mabul.
The shark was identified as a shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus), on the basis of the size of its pectoral fins on the side of its body and the shape of the snout.
“The sighting was a remarkable one for all concerned, particularly because the species usually prefers the open ocean.
“Even more amazing for this close-up encounter, was that this species is known to jump up to 20 feet out of water – nearly five metres! – and can achieve speeds of more than 70km per hour over short periods,” according to a statement on behalf of the Sabah Shark and Ray Initiative (SSRI).
SSRI is coordinated by non-governmental organisations LEAP Spiral/Forever Sabah, marine Research Foundation, WWF-Malaysia, Shark Education Awareness and Survival (Scubajunkie Seas) and the Sabah Shark Protection Association.
The initiative aims to strengthen the conservation of sharks and rays in Sabah.
Semporna, particularly world renowned Sipadan island, is a dive haven where scuba divers have high chances to dive with sharks.
The tourists are not alone in their excitement at the shark sightings, as many go to the region to dive with sharks.
A study by Dr Johanna Zimmerhackel of the Australian Institute of Marine Science determined that shark-diving tourism provided direct revenues in excess of US$16.6 million (RM69.6 mil) to the Semporna region in 2018.