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Shark School

Mako Shark
(Isurus oxyrinchus)

Mako Shark.  Copyright Richard Herrmann

The mako is a pelagic, or open ocean, shark. It's dark blue on the back and white on the underside of its body. These deep water sharks grow to 8 feet, rarely reaching a length of 12.5 feet. Its average size is 6-8 feet. The mako is highly specialized for continuous swimming, and is considered one of the fastest sharks in the water. It can achieve speeds of more than 22 mph. It has long, knifelike teeth and feeds mainly on mackerel, squid and a variety of fishes including the fast-moving tunas, swordfishes and other sharks. Marine mammals do not appear to be an important food for mako sharks.

The mako shark is found around the world in warm and temperate seas, in the Pacific from Oregon to Chile, and juvenile makos are common in southern California during the summer months. Some scientists believe that female mako sharks migrate into San Diego's waters to have their pups. From spring to autumn, pups and 1-2 year-old sharks can be found off San Diego, several miles out at sea.

Makos are prized gamefish. Once landed, makos present a danger to anglers because of their size, powerful jaws, and large teeth. The mako is generally not a threat to divers and swimmers since it lives in the open ocean where people seldom venture.

The mako is also called bonito, mackerel shark, spriglio, paloma, or shortfin mako.

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Photograph © Richard Herrmann

Shark School | Kids' Habitat

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