They're fast. They're acrobats. They're deadly (to their prey). Meet the shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus).
Believed to be the fastest of all sharks (with speed clocking in at 35 km/ph), and can propel themselves out of the water up to six metres. They're the definition of "grace" in the water... and what we're talking about in this bio.
They go by a number of names: "Atlantic mako," "blue pointer," "bonito shark," "mackerel porbeagle," and "sharpnose mackerel shark." Note that porbeagle sharks are a different species than the shortfin mako! The shortfin mako is not to be confused with the lesser known longfin mako (Isurus paucus).
The shortfin mako is a brilliant blue color, with a stark white underbelly; juveniles tend to have a black mark on their snout. Their razor-sharp teeth are like jagged nails, perfect for capturing their prey of choice: slippery fish! Fish include, but are not limited to, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, cod, and sea bass. These sharks also eat other sharks, such as blue sharks (Prionace glauca), grey sharks (Carcharhinus sp.) and hammerheads (Sphyrna sp.). Other prey items include squid and sea turtles.
Like the great white shark, they have a heat exchange circulatory system called the rete-mirable. These makos can get up to 4 m and weigh up to 570 kg! Surprisingly, little else is known of its biology. We know they are viviparous with yolk-sac, and that uterine cannibalism (known as oophagy) occurs.
They are a wide-ranging shark found in tropical and temperate waters throughout the world’s oceans; yes, New Zealand, we even have them down here! This species might migrate seasonally to warmer waters (a good idea I wish I could follow).
The shortfin mako is classified as Vulnerable (VU) by the IUCN, as they are frequently caught as bycatch by tuna and swordfish fisheries. Jaws, teeth, fins and liver oil are popular byproducts from these animals; Melissa has seen mako jaws for sale in seaside markets before! The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has included the shortfin mako on their list of managed pelagic sharks.
what are your thoughts on makos?
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TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
SEE MELISSA'S TEDx TALK HERE:
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