Shortfin Mako shark

The fastest shark

The Shortfin Mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is a large mackerel shark. The Shortfin Mako is on record as the fastest-swimming shark, capable of bursts of speed up to 42 mph. The shortfin Mako shark is a high-energy and aggressive shark. Shortfin Mako sharks that reach or exceed 1,000 pounds are known as Grander Mako sharks. In November 2018, the Shortfin Mako shark was re-evaluated as an endangered species

Family: Lamnidae – Mackrel Sharks


Genus: Isurus

Species: oxyrinchus



Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common Name– Mackerel


Genus– Isurus

Species– oxyrinchus

Status: IUCN Red List ENDANGERED. This is a recent evaluation as of November 2018.

Average Size and Length: 8-10 feet, occasionally 11-12 feet.

Average Weight: Usually between 330 and 1,100 pounds, rarely over that. 1,000 pounds or over is considered a grander mako.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Mako- Maori the New Zealand word for shark. To the Maori, they are sacred.

Teeth and Jaw: The teeth are triangular, long and smooth, hook-like and pointed. There are about 30 teeth in each jaw.  They are not serrated. The Shortfin Mako has so many teeth that they stick out of its mouth even when it is closed, especially in the lower jaw. White, ‘U’ shaped mouth area (in the Azores it is dusky in color).

The teeth of a Grander mako widen and become broader, rather than the narrow ones we are used to seeing.

Head: Pointed snout and large, black eyes.

Tail: The Shortfin Mako’s tail is crescentic or lunate with a lower lobe that is almost as large as the upper lobe. The Shortfin Mako shark has a longitudinal ridge or a lateral caudal keel projecting on both sides of the body: caudal peduncle. This caudal fin aids its perfect design to enable its performance to perfection.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Shortfin Mako shark will exist in most marine habitats, including inshore, offshore and open ocean. They prefer water that is between 60-70 degrees F (16-21 degrees C). Shortfin Mako sharks can be found at the surface down to 2,500 feet (762 m). This is all dependent on the availability of food and the water temperature. Shortfin Mako sharks do show migratory patterns. Shortfin Mako sharks can be found worldwide in all temperate and tropical waters. The can be as far north as the UK, the north Pacific and Japan, and as far south as the tips of South Africa, South America, and south New Zealand.

Diet: The Shortfin Mako mainly preys on other sport fish like tuna, bonitos, bluefish and their personal favorite, the swordfish. Shortfin Mako’s will even hunt other sharks. On occasion, Shortfin Mako sharks will eat other mammals and even squid.

Ram-Suction Index: Ram

Aesthetic Identification: The Shortfin Mako shark can be described as a metallic blue backside and upper sides, and counter-shaded pale to white on the belly and lower sides. The mouth area is white, as opposed to the Longfin Mako’s blue area mouth.

The colorings on a Mako shark do get darker as they age.

Shortfin Mako sharks are sleek, streamlined and spindle-shaped.

The Shortfin Mako’s gill slits are just in front of the pectoral fins. The dorsal fin is between the pectoral and pelvic fins. It has small pectoral fins, and even smaller pelvic fins, with a small second dorsal and anal fins back at the tail.

Shortfin Mako sharks that meet or exceed 1,000 pounds, begin to transform, and are known specifically as a Grander Mako. There are dramatic noticeable biological changes about the shark, including the teeth.

Biology and Reproduction: Male Shortfin Mako sharks reach sexual maturity around 6 ½ feet, and females between 8-10 feet. They have a variable mating season. Shortfin Mako sharks are ovoviviparous, and gestation is between 15-18 months. Shortfin Mako sharks participate in intrauterine cannibalism, and after have between 8-10 young averaging 28 inches long.

Research suggests that a Shortfin Mako’s lifespan is 20 years or more, averaging 28-35 years.

The Shortfin Mako shark has the largest brain to body ratio of any shark, confirming how smart this shark is.

The Shortfin Mako shark is warm-blooded. They have been observed functioning at higher energies and outputs in cool water compared to cold-blooded sharks.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Like all sharks, Shortfin Mako sharks use their Ampullae of lorenzini and their lateral lines, but have strong other senses as well, so they aren’t as heavily reliant on their Ampullae. Shortfin Mako sharks have a large brain-to-body ratio, which means they have big brains for their size. This, in turn, means that they have the potential for intelligence and in fact, many scientists believe that they are intelligent creatures, which learn fast and adapt quickly to different circumstances. In particular, they can easily tell when someone is threatening them or not. Also, they have been observed to rely on all their senses when hunting and not mostly on electroreception, like the Great White shark.

They have extremely large eyes, and strong vision, even at night or in low light conditions.

Shortfin Mako sharks tend to become aggressive, and can even become angry, they are known to jump into fisherman’s boats and ships if caught on a line and hook. They can leap over 20 feet into the air.

The Shortfin mako can be an ambush predator. Shortfin Mako sharks have been observed and documented to ambush prey  by means of Polaris breach, similar to the Great White shark.

Speed: The Shortfin Mako holds the record for fastest shark, and one of the fastest fishes of all. It averages between 25-35 mph consistently, with bursts of speed up to 46 mph. The Shortfin Mako can cover more than 1,200 miles in less than 40 days.

Shortfin Mako Sharks Future and Conservation: They have been recently evaluated, and as of November 2018, they are considered endangered. There are several factors at play, habitat degradation to to global warming, extreme fishing pressures, and finning/poaching. 

Sharktagger Keith Poe helps to research these sharks by tagging them, in an effort to help grow their population back to health, and educate the public. Check him out right here. 

Shortfin Mako Shark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Shortfin Mako sharks have been known to attack, with 42 total, 10 recorded unprovoked attacks between 1850 to today, three of which were fatal. Click here for more information. They can be quite aggressive and do not like people swimming around them. They have also been known to attack boats. When caught on the line, they fight back fiercely and also attack fishermen to get their catch, especially spear fishermen and those who catch tuna and swordfish.