Wildlife Fact Sheets

Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin Mako Shark

Shortfin Mako Shark

Isurus oxyrinchus

  • Life Span
    Over 30 years old
  • Habitat
    The open ocean
  • Range
    In tropical to temperate waters around the world
  • Preferred Food
    Large animals like squid, dolphin, sea turtles and more


I am a speed demon—and proud of it. I can swim up to 45 miles per hour (that’s as fast as a horse can run!). This comes in handy when I go after fast prey like dolphins, mackerels and other sharks. I am specially designed to reach those top speeds: I have strong muscles and a streamlined body that allows me to power through the water in fast bursts. I also have specialized blood vessels that allow me to keep my body temperature higher than the surrounding water. This system, called a counter-current heat exchange, allows warm blood to transfer heat to the cold water coming in through my gills, meaning I am always nice and toasty. This allows me to be a powerful swimmer and travel long distances.  I’m not the only one who has this warming technique—other Laminid sharks like great whites as well as other fish like tuna, swordfish and marlin can do it too.

Did You Know?

I’m at the top of the food chain! My size and speed make me a dominant predator in the ecosystem. Occasionally, another shark will eat juvenile makos, but predators rarely go after adults. However, there are some reports of cannibalism: baby mako sharks sometimes eat unfertilized eggs while in their mother’s womb in a practice called oophagy.

Status and Conservation

As you can probably tell, I’m super athletic. I’m proud of our speed and aggressiveness—traits which also make us a prized catch for sportfishers. We’re known to fight hard and jump out of the water when hooked, which means people see fishing for us as a desirable challenge. Unfortunately, even if people aren’t specifically trying to catch us, we can get entangled in longline fishing gear as bycatch. Commercial and recreational fishing worldwide, on top of shark finning operations killing us for our fins, has greatly decreased our populations. Also, because we are a highly migratory species that cross international boundaries, countries need to work together to set regulations that help protect us from overharvest. We were recently reclassified from “Vulnerable” to “Endangered”, which means our populations are declining and are at heightened risk of extinction.

Fast Facts

  • Shortfin mako sharks can reach up to 13 feet in length.
  • Baby shortfin mako sharks are 2 feet long when born.


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