Shortfin mako shark - Isurus oxyrinchus


Illustration © Marc Dando

A streamlined shark with a conical snout, long caudal keel and large crescentic caudal fin.

Metallic blue to dark gray above; white below

Males mature when they are about 6.2 ft [1.9 m] in length, and they will grow to at least 9.3 ft [2.84 m] in length. Females mature when they are about 9.1 ft [2.8 m] in length, and will grow to a length of 12.9 ft [3.94 m], possibly longer.

Large awl-shaped non-serrated grasping teeth.

Offshore littoral and epipelagic species found in water warmer than 60ºF [16ºC], from surface to at least 500 ft [152 m].

Circumglobal in temperate and tropical seas.


  • Prey – Fish (including fast-swimming species such as tuna, bonito and swordfish), squid and smaller sharks.

  • Reproduction – Ovoviviparous. Embryos are ovophagous; smaller siblings are consumed by larger siblings. Litters range from 4 to 6 pups, and size at birth is 1.9 to 2.6 ft [60 to 80 cm].

The Shortfin mako shark, like the White shark - Carcharodon carcharias, is warm-bodied. This is an extremely active shark. It is the fastest of all the sharks and famed for its spectacular leaps from the sea.

Hyperactive. Danger to humans – unprovoked attacks on swimmers have been documented and the sharks attempted to inflict multiple bites. Unprovoked attacks on divers are rare, probably because the shark is usually found well offshore. However, its speed and aggressiveness, particularly around speared fish, indicate that it should be regarded with caution.

Overfishing of the Shortfin mako shark has left it “exceptionally vulnerable” in the North Atlantic. The species is primarily taken as bycatch by commercial longliners, but reviews of landings shows mako bycatch to be 50 percent higher than the annual recommended threshold. It is believed this species will take 20 years to recover even if ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas), the international agency responsible for governing large, highly migratory pelagic species in the Atlantic, cuts the harvest to zero.