Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin Mako SharkThe Maori, (New Zealand ) used their word mako to describe this extraordinary fish, the Shortfin Mako, Isurus oxyrinchus.

As one of the fastest sharks in the ocean, this powerful shark can attain burst swimming speeds of up to 22 mph (35 km/h) and can leap clear of the water to heights of up to 20 feet (6 meters). These qualities have made this species a sought after game fish. They are also known to attack boats.

The shortfin 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 slender and slightly curved with no lateral cusps and are visible even when the mouth is closed.

The shortfin mako can grow to lengths of 13 feet (3.9 meters) and weigh about 1,000 pounds (454 Kg) but more are 5-8 feet long.. There is still some uncertainty about its life-span, but it is suspected to reach ages of between 11-23 years.

This species is deep blue-gray above, changing along the sides to a snowy white belly. Soon after death, these colors change to dark slate gray above and pale dirty gray below.

Shortfin mako sharks live in tropical and temperate offshore waters. They are a pelagic species that occur from the surface down to depths of 490 feet (150 meters). This shark is seldom found in waters colder than about 60 degrees F. (16 degrees C.).

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. They are often found in the same waters as swordfish as they are a source of food and both fish prefer similar environmental conditions.