Overview Research Education Conservation Monterey Bay Biology Images Staff Shop Contact Us

Shortfin Mako Shark - Isurus oxyrinchus


Mako sharks represent the very apex of Chondrichthyian predatory development. Few creatures are blessed with a greater perimeter of trophic superiority than the mako shark.

There are two types of mako, the most common and widely spread is the shortfin mako; (Isurus oxyerinchus); less common and more specialized is the long-fin mako, (Isurus paucus.)

Both types of mako represent the largest, (13' and 1500 lbs.) fastest, most sophisticated species of pelagic shark on the planet. Pound for pound the mako is in all likely hood the most vigorous and powerful shark in the seas.

An ancient relative Isurus hastilus is nearly identical in terms of tooth structure and function. The ancient mako hastilus was probably 20'+ long and nearly three tons; It was a Cretaceous Grand Mako that shared the seas with kronosaur, ichthyosaur and plesiosaur.

The makos of today feed on some of the worlds fastest and highly developed tunas and billfish, mako sharks are at the very apex of the marine food chain. Makos have been known to feed on dolphins, porpoise and blue sharks and are known for being able to leap high into the air. The mako sharks are 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 33 degrees above the ambient water temperatures. Both types of mako are heavily built with the trademark strong caudal keels that are a common feature among lamnids such as white sharks, porbeagles and salmon sharks.

Long-fin makos are apparently a more deep water tropics dwelling predator of which little is known. It wasn't even described as a separate species until 1966.

Both models of mako are of striking coloration. Dorsal surfaces are a deep purplish indigo in color, silvery on sides fading to snow white below. The longfin has a shaded coloration around the mouth and underside of the snout, unlike the shortfin that is snow white around the mouth and under-snout. Only the blue shark can rival the makos for beautiful color.

Mako sharks have five large gill slits, Well developed eyes (slightly larger in the long-fin) and pronounced knife like, non-serrated teeth. An extremely fast and active shark it was propelled to " big-game fishing " fame by author Zane Gray who was taken by the animals menacing appearance and volatility during the early part of this century. Author Ernest Hemingway also was impressed by the mako shark and depicted it as the marlin marauding heavy in his classic novel the Old Man and the Sea.

Author Richard Ellis also wrote an excellent short story about a deep sea contest between a mako and a broadbill swordfish in his popular work the Book of Sharks.


Development is ovoviparous. Developing young are intra-uteral cannibals that consume lesser developed siblings. Oviphagy.

Males mature at around 6 1/2 feet (200 cm) while females are somewhat larger 8 1/2 feet (260 cm). Maximum length over 12 feet long and max weight over 1500 lbs. Very little is known about the reproduction of the shortfin mako because females abort embryos during capture. Litters of over 8 - 10 pups are uncommon.

[ home ] [ contact us ] [ support us ] [ shop ]
© Copyright 1990-2003 PSRF
All rights reserved.
Site Development by IT Director