|Photo modified from
Sharks and Rays. TC Tricas, K Deacon, P Last, JE McCosker, TI Walker, L
Taylor. 1997. Nature Company Guides, Time Life Book Series. Weldon Owen Pty Ltd
mako shark is a sleek spindle shaped shark with a long conical snout. This
shark has short pectoral fins and a crescent shaped caudal (tail) fin. There is
a distinct caudal keel on the caudal base. Its second dorsal fin is much
smaller than the first. The teeth are are slender and slightly curved with no
lateral cusps, and are visible even when the mouth is closed. There is marked
countershading on this shark: dorsally it is a metallic indigo blue while
ventrally it is white.
mako can grow to lengths of 3.9 meters (13 feet). There is still some
uncertainty about its life-span, but it is suspected to reach ages of between
As one of the
fastest sharks in the ocean, this powerful shark can attain burst swimming
speeds of up to 35 km/h (22 mph) and can leap clear of the water to heights of
up to 6 meters (20 feet). These qualities have made this species a sought after
sport fish in some parts of its range.
The shortfin mako feeds
mainly upon bony fishes including mackerels, tunas, bonitos and swordfish, but
may also eat other sharks, porpoises and sea turtles.
Female shortfin makos
usually become sexually mature at a length of 3 meters. Developing embryos feed
on unfertilized eggs in the uterus during the gestation period of 15-18 months.
The 4-18 surviving young are born live in the late winter and early spring at a
length of about 70 cm, but have no placental connection during development
(ovoviviparity). It is believed that females may rest for 18 months after birth
before the next batch of eggs are fertilized.
Shortfin mako sharks live
in tropical and temperate offshore waters. They are a pelagic species that
occur from the surface down to depths of 150 meters (490 feet). This shark is
seldom found in waters colder than 16 degrees Celsius.
The shortfin mako is found
worldwide. In the western Atlantic it can be found from Argentina and the Gulf
of Mexico to Browns Bank off of Nova Scotia. In Canadian waters these sharks
are not abundant as they prefer warm waters, but neither are they rare.
Shortfin makos are often found in the same waters as swordfish as they are a
source of food and both fish prefer similar environmental
- Teeth are visible even when the mouth is
- Teeth are long and slender with
- Distinct countershading, dorsally blue
and ventrally white
- Moderately short pectoral
- Underside of the snout is
- Lunate tail and caudal keel