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Shortfin Mako Shark

Isurus oxyrinchus

Distinguishing Characteristics

Illustration of a shortfin mako shark showing important characteristics
  • Lunate tail (shaped like a crescent moon) with lobes of similar size
  • Single lateral keel at base of tail
  • Back is a deep blue color, fading to a white belly
  • Snout is sharply pointed with a white underside
  • First dorsal fin starts behind free tip of pectoral fin
  • Teeth are long, narrow and recurved with smooth edges
  • No interdorsal ridge

Similar Species: White shark, C. carcharias (teeth are serrated and triangular); and longfin mako, I. paucus (area under snout is dusky or blue-black) 


Maximum length 12 feet. A slow to mature species, females reach maturity around 18 years (9 feet) and males reach maturity at 8 years of age (6 feet) and are estimated to live up to 30 years.


A cosmopolitan species inhabiting continental nearshore areas and offshore waters of tropical and temperate waters worldwide. A highly migratory species moving seasonally throughout its range.


Preys upon fast moving pelagic fishes such as tunas and swordfish. Also consumes squid, other sharks, and rarely marine turtles and mammals.


Embryos known to consume other embryos within the uterus (known as oophagy) but are not commonly known to cannibalize as several embryos have been found to share each uterus. After 15-18 months of gestation, females give birth to live young.  Broods range from 4-16 pups.  Size at birth about 27-28 inches.

Additional Information

Incredibly hydrodynamic, this species has been clocked at speeds greater than 25 mph with bursts of 40+ mph, which allows them to leap high out of the water.  A valuable commercial species with marketable flesh and fins. It is also considered a recreationally-important game-fish, sought-after for its ability to leap out of the water when hooked.

State Record: 911 lb 12 oz, caught near Palm Beach

Recreational Regulations


Image Credit: © Diane Rome Peebles