Mako Shark Facts

The Peregrine Falcon of the Ocean: Interesting Mako Shark Facts

Do you know that the top swimming speed of mako shark reaches 46 miles per hour and it leaps to about 9 m from the sea surface? This article some super interesting mako shark facts.
Learning about sharks and their life under water is always a fascinating subject for marine biologists all across the globe. One such interesting species is the mako shark, which is also a much sought after sport fish. It has the adaptability to thrive in varied habitat conditions. So, it is not surprising for researches to find mako sharks in hot water of the shores or cold water of the sea to a certain depth (up to 150 m). With this brief introduction, let's try to understand more about mako shark interesting facts.

Mako Shark Facts and Information

Mako shark is of two types - one has short fins called shortfin mako shark (scientific name Isurus oxyrinchus) and the other having long fins known as longfin mako shark, (scientific name I. paucus). You can differentiate a longfin mako from the shortfin one by its extra-large eyes and longer pectoral fins. Other than these, they nearly look similar to each other.

What is in a Name?
The term 'mako' means shark or shark tooth in Māori language. However, the credit for scientifically naming shortfin mako shark goes to Constantine Rafinesque, a polymath who keyed out this shark species for the first time in 1809. The genus name of the shortfin mako refers to the same tail, while pointed snout is the meaning for the species name.

Mako sharks have been identified in both temperate and tropical waters of the world. However, the longfin mako shark is mostly found in warm water at some distance away from the shore. Grouped under endothermic sharks (which absorb heat from their surrounding), the mako shark cannot tolerate extreme cold waters.

The key features of mako shark are big black eyes, bluntly pointed snout, prominent caudal keel and high aspect ratio. It is white colored on the ventral side, while its dorsal portion is vibrant blue. The lower section of the mouth and its surrounding areas are white in color. A young mako shark has a blackish spot in the tip of the blunt snout, which disappears after attaining maturity.

On an average, mako shark measures about 1.8 - 3.2 m and weighs approximately 400 kg or lesser. There is no clear sexual dimorphism in the growth rate of mako shark. Both male and female sharks have the same length, but the female is robust and weighs more than the male. The larger the shark, the darker is its color. In other words, the white portion of a smaller mako shark is more than that of the bigger one.

Besides its ability to survive in a wide range of water parameters, the mako shark is remarkable for its diet. It devours any kind of fish that comes on its way at the time of hunting. Thus, food shortage is not a prime concern for this small-sized shark. The bulk of the mako shark diet comes from bony fish, cephalopods, other sharks, seabird and several other fish. You can read more on what do sharks eat.

Mako shark is represented as a highly aggressive species. Till date there is no evidence that proves this shark as a man-eating predator. But, it does attack swimmers and divers in many incidences considering them as a threat. This aggressive nature is partly responsible for hunting mako sharks, which contribute to their population decline.

Indeed the mako shark is a master in swimming. On an average, it covers a distance of 31 mph (miles per hour). Nonetheless, a mako shark searching for food or running after a prey can swim to more than 45 mph. This high speed is partly due to the endothermic system. Upon studies, it is found that the body temperature of mako shark is about 7° F more than its dwelling environment.

The mako shark is ovoviviparous and the adult female gives birth to young ones (4 - 18) directly. Over here, the unborn does not depend on the mother for nutrition, but is fed by the egg yolk. Gestation period lasts for 15 - 18 months. At birth, the young sharks measure about 28 inch in length. After resting for 1½ years, the female is ready to copulate again.

Quick Mako Shark Facts for Kids
  • If you get a chance to see mako shark pictures, you will notice the slender and elongated teeth of this shark, even when it closes its mouth.
  • The tips of the teeth are smooth-edged but they are distinctly curved, which is an adaptation to catch hold of its prey.
  • As compared to all other shark species, the shark holds the record for being the fastest swimmer. It swims fast while migrating or hunting.
  • The mako shark is often found jumping out of water to about 9 m high in the air, and the reason behind this behavior is still not known.
  • Seeing the small size (as compared to other shark species), most swimmers consider this shark a harmless creature, which is doubtful in the real sense.
  • A shortfin mako shark requires daily food of about 3 percent of its body weight. But, it digestion process is relatively slow.
  • At the time of hunting, a mako shark swims below its prey, so that it can attack the caudal peduncle of the fish and make it immobile.
  • The actual lifespan of a mako shark is not documented, but it is believed to live for 11 - 23 years. And the female population has a longer lifespan than the male counterparts.
Thus, this shark exhibits some of the unique characteristics that leave us astounded. Of the two extant mako sharks, the shortfin species is more abundant in number than the longfin mako. They are noted for their high migratory behavior, especially for mating purpose. A popular sport fish and massive hunting for meat, the number of mako shark is greatly reduced in the last few decades. In the present date, this shark is listed under vulnerable species.