Species Profile: Mako Shark

The streamlined Mako Shark is a true predator known to eat fish, birds and whale carcasses. Also known as the Blue Pointer or Bonito shark, this fast and aggressive shark has fascinating characteristics.

mako shark underwater photo

Mako Shark

Scientific Name: Isurus oxyrinchus

The mako shark is an easily recognizable shark exhibiting all the traits of a Lamnid, they are an extremely robust and streamlined pelagic shark with well developed eyes (larger in the Longfin) and an endothermic circulatory system (warm bloodedness) that is known to maintain elevated muscle temperatures of up to 6 Celcius above the ambient water temperature. Makos are heavily built with the trademark strong caudal keels that are a common feature among Lamnids such as Great Whites, Porbeagles and Salmon sharks.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Chondrichthyes
  • Superorder: Selachimorpha
  • Order: Lamniformes
  • Family: Lamnidae
  • Genus: Isurus
  • Species: oxyrinchus
  • Scientific Name: Isurus oxyrinchus

Mako Sharks have a scientific name; Isurus oxyrinchus. Their scientific classification is shown in the list above.

Life Expectancy

The mako shark has a lifespan of 16 to 35 years.

Length and Weight

Mako sharks are relatively large species of shark; an adult species has an average length of around 3.2m (approximately 10 feet) and an average weight of 60-135kg (about 132-198 lb).

The female of the species are generally larger than the male.

The largest Mako shark was taken on hook and line on the coastal region of California and had a weight of 600kg (roughly 1,300 lb).

The longest recorded length of a shortfin Mako was 4.45 m (14.6 feet) at the coast of France.

Maximum Speed

A Mako shark can swim at a speed of approximately 18.8 m/s which is around 42mph.

Dangerous to Man?

They are one of the most dangerous oceanic species because of their power, teeth, aggressiveness and their great speed. Mako sharks have been blamed for various fatal and non-fatal attacks on humans.

According to divers who have encountered Mako sharks, they say that this shark moves in a figure of 8 pattern and approach its prey with their mouth open before an attack.

When Mako sharks are hooked on fishing lines they often damage boats and injure fishers.

Conservation Status

Vulnerable (IUCN)

Population and Fishing

The Mako shark is usually fished commercially or for recreational purposes.

The world’s affinity of Mako shark flesh and its fin soup have led to decreasing in population numbers of Mako shark. This reduction in population is as a result of Mako shark being subjected to overharvesting by direct hunting.

However, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in U.S has reduced the number of recreational and commercial Mako shark catches that are allowed per year by 50% in an attempt to counteract its decreasing numbers.

Reproduction

The Mako shark is a yolk sac ovoviviparous shark and gives birth to live young .

They have a gestation period of 15 to 18 months. During this period the developing embryos feed on oophany which are unfertilized eggs within the uterus.

They give birth to around 4-18 surviving young during the late winter and the early springs. The young are 70cm in length (roughly 28 inches).

Mako shark bear young an average of every three years, and the female species waits for approximately 18 months after birth before mating again.

Diet

Their dieting mainly consists of bony fish and cephalopods inclusive of other sharks. They can also feed on mackerels, tunas, bonito’s porpoises, sea turtles, and seabirds.

Other Names

Mako sharks are also known as the blue pointer or bonito shark.

Evolution of the Mako shark

The Mako shark body design and muscles have evolved over 400 million years.

Research usually shows that Mako sharks are ancestors of the great white shark. Fossils of the newfound specimen of shark known as Carcharodon hubbelli indicates the modern great white may have evolved from broad-toothed Mako sharks a long time ago.

Distribution and habitat

This shark populates all the tropical and temperate waters, epipelagic and coastal areas with depths up to 150 meters.

They are highly populated in the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Atlantic, Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

In the Pacific Ocean, Mako shark is located along the American coasts and from the Territory of Primorye which is in Russia to Australia and New Zealand.

In the Atlantic Ocean, they are located from the Gulf of Maine to Brazil and Argentina. They can also be found from Norway to South Africa.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortfin_mako_shark
  2. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39341/0
  3. http://oceana.org/marine-life/sharks-rays/shortfin-mako-shark

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