Mako Shark teeth have interior teeth that are wide, flat and lacking of lateral cusps. This enables them to feed on larger prey such as smaller sharks, dolphins and swordfish. This article dives deeper into the life of a Mako Shark, including their habitat, distribution, ecology and conservation.
Mako Shark Description
There are two types of Mako Shark, including the Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) and the Longfin Mako Shark (I. paucus). Besides from their different fin sizes, the main distinctions between the two are that the Shortfin Mako Shark is manly found in temperate or tropical seas, while the Longfin Mako Shark sticks to solely tropical seas.
These sharks are also often called Sharp-Nosed Mackerel Sharks and Blue Pointers, especially in Australia. Their bodies are long, slender and very streamlined with greyish-blue colouring. Some Mako Sharks are a darker blue colour but most are characteristically white ventrally. They have a rather pointing snouts and Mako Shark teeth are also very long and slim.
Mako Shark can grow as big as 4.5 metres (14.8 feet) once they reach a fully adult age. They can also be as heavy as 500 kilos (approximately 1,100 pounds). That is a very big shark! They have a pretty varied diet of different types of fish, including mackerel, swordfish, herring and smaller cetaceans.
The Mako Sharks are known to be highly migratory, with long migrations every year. Similar to Tuna, Great White Shark and some other fish, the Mako Shark has a special structure of blood vessels called countercurrent exchangers that allows them to keep their body temperature higher than the temperature of the surrounding environment. This element gives them a great advantage when hunting in cold water, allowing them to move faster and smarter. This shark is located at the top of the pelagic food chain.
The Shortfin Mako Shark is one of the few sharks that have been known to bite and kill humans, even though these events are extremely rare and possibly accidental cases of misidentification (the shark thinks the human is a large fish).
Mako Shark Reproduction
Mako Sharks are Ovoviviparous and mate through internal fertilization. They give birth to a small number of relatively large cubs. Although they give birth to live pups, these sharks do not connect to their young through the placenta. Instead, during pregnancy, the mother gives her developing embryos her oophagy (unfertilized eggs), which they actively eat for feeding. They do this during the 15 to 18 month gestation period within the uterus.
4 to 18 surviving juveniles are born alive in early Spring and late Winter at approximately 70cm (28 inches) long. Mako Sharks give birth on average every three years. Females have roughly an 18 month resting period after giving birth before choosing to mate again.
Among all the Shortfin Mako Sharks studied, its brain-to-body ratio is one of the highest. This large head and behavioural studies, indicated that the sharks are fast-learning, unique and showing novel behaviours. They were able to judge that the researchers were not a threat and were briefly touched while providing bait.
Conservation Of Mako Sharks
The Shortfin Mako Shark was listed as ‘Near Threatened’ in 2007, went up to ‘Vulnerable’ in 2019 and is currently classified as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN. This species is the target of both sport and commercial fisheries, and a significant percentage is caught as by-catch from driftnet fisheries.
Habitat & Distribution
These sharks are highly migratory and travel very far, across whole oceans. They are mainly found off the Eastern coasts of the Atlantic ocean from Florida, New England, Texas to the Gulf of Mexico and in the Caribbean Sea.