9 Interesting Facts to Get to Know the Mako Shark
The mako shark is a large shark found in warm, temperate waters around the world. Smaller than its distant cousins, the Megalodon and the Great White, the mako shark holds its own as a top predator in the modern world food chain. Sleek, agile, and surprisingly cunning, the mako shark can certainly hold its own.
2 Types of Mako Shark:
- Shortfin mako shark
- Longfin mako shark
The shortfin mako glides through offshore temperate and tropical seas worldwide, while the longfin is found in the Gulf Stream and warmer offshore waters, like those off Maine or New Zealand. Adult male makos average 10 feet in length while females, being sexually dimorphic, reach upwards of 12 feet or more! That’s amazing, but we haven’t even reached the truly interesting facts yet.
9 Interesting Facts You Need to Know About Mako Sharks
- Mako sharks are super smart
- They are the fastest sharks in the world
- Makos are aggressive hunters
- They must keep moving
- Mako sharks prefer warm water
- They can see in the dark
- The female mako shark doesn’t reproduce very often
- Sport fisherman love the challenge of the catch-and-release
- Mako sharks are a vulnerable species
1. The mako shark is very intelligent.
Of all the sharks studied, makos have the most significant brain-to-body ratio, making it a fast-learning species that initially demonstrated caution that evolved into novel behaviors during testing. For example, in research presented in a documentary aired on Shark Week, mako sharks learned to allow researchers to hand feed and touch them. This is a testament to their extremely impressive critical reasoning and social skills.
2. The fastest shark in the world is the mako.
Thanks to its pointed, torpedo-shaped body, the mako shark can reach speed bursts of up to 60 miles per hour. These bursts of speed make it a formidable predator and lithe enough to escape larger apex predators. Its ability to accelerate enables it to leap out of the water to heights of around 30 feet. The mako also exhibits great endurance, covering up to 1,300 miles in less than 30 days.
3. Mako sharks are intelligent, aggressive hunters.
Shortfin makos consume roughly 3% of their weight each day. They feed on bony fish like mackerel, tuna, and bonito and eat other sharks, porpoises, and sea turtles. However, their favorite prey appears to be the swordfish! Which is possibly because of the thrill of the chase. This makes swordfish populations a good indicator of when there is a mako shark population nearby.
Mako sharks rely upon their unique countershading to stalk and hunt. Swimming below their prey, the dark purple and blue of their top fin and back blend into the deep waters. Surging upwards at great speed, they take their prey by surprise, often breaching the water’s surface with their power and speed. Mako shark teeth are wide, flat, and angular, enabling them to prey effectively on any species they choose.
4. Mako sharks must keep moving to live.
Makos are “obligate ram ventilators,” which means water must constantly pass through their gills to create oxygen for them to breathe. If they stop swimming, they will die. These sharks require a great deal of energy to swim long miles, so they often eat anything that crosses their paths and store energy for a resting time and those times when they cannot find prey.
5. This warm-blooded shark prefers warmer waters.
Scientists believe that the mako shark is so fast because it is one of only five species of endothermic sharks. It can regulate its own body temperature, so, therefore is warm-blooded. The warm blood creates strong, more efficient muscles so they can expel more energy more efficiently. They prefer water temperatures over 61 degrees (Fahrenheit) and hunt in shallower waters, along coastlines, and around islands and inlets.
6. Mako sharks can see in the dark like a cat.
Makos are one of the few shark species that do not rely on electroreception to navigate or sense prey. Instead, they use their smell, hearing, and vision. Their eyes have light-detecting cells and a tapetum lucidum, like cats, allowing them to see well in the dark. In addition, their strong sense of touch gives them a unique ability to sense even minute pressure changes and movements in the water around them.
7. Female mako sharks have limited reproduction time.
Mako sharks experience a somewhat short lifespan. A male may reach a maximum of 29 years, while a female can reach 32 years of age. A female mako reaches 50% sexual maturity at 18 years, leaving limited reproductive years. While they can gestate 4 to 18 young sharks per 15 – 18-month gestation, a female mako may rest up to 18 months after giving birth, so up to 3 years may pass between each live birth.
8. The mako shark is a sports fisherman’s favorite!
Hooking the mako shark is a sports fisherman’s dream! Their lightning-fast speed, acrobatic flips, and heavy fights can entertain anglers for hours while they fight the line. While everyone knows this is a catch-and-release species, it does not deter the anglers from engaging with the shark and getting some close-up encounters with mako shark teeth! In fact, of the few recorded shark attacks by makos, most were provoked due to the shark being caught on a fishing line.
9. The mako shark has been upgraded to an Endangered Species.
Sadly, the shortfin mako has been targeted by sport and commercial fishers to a dangerously high level. Between finning and bycatch driftnet deaths, mako sharks moved from being “vulnerable” to “endangered.” This is an international decision that will go a long way towards reversing the decline in the numbers of makos and rebuilding the population. Despite the work of mako rookeries, the damage to the mako population is alarming.
How Does the Mako Shark Compare to the Great White?
As previously mentioned, the mako is a distant cousin to the Great White and the Megalodon. However, as the Great White is an available source of comparison, we can look at the main physical features that distinguish the two and establish them both as the ocean’s top predators. Here are just a few of the distinguishing characteristics:
Distinguishing Characteristics of the Mako Shark
- Skin and Fins
- Body Shape
The nose of the mako shark is perfectly shaped to its long, lean, torpedo-like body. The pointy tip is a clear difference from the Great White. The Great White has a blunt nose, rounded and broad. The shape of their noses is even more distinctive when compared side-to-side using jaw bones – the Great White’s jaw is very round, while the mako’s jaw is more oblong.
Skin and Fins
The skin of the Great White is fairly monotone dorsally (top) and ventrally (bottom). The bottoms of its pectoral fins, however, have distinguishing black tips. In addition, the mako has brilliant metallic blue to purple coloration on the top of its body and a clear line of demarcation between the blue and white underbelly. There are no other distinguishing colors on the underside of a mako shark.
Mako sharks are one of the fastest animals on earth and definitely the fastest shark in the water! Their speed bursts of up to 65 miles per hour come in handy when chasing prey like the elusive swordfish! The Great White shark is more of a slow cruiser, with speed bursts of up to 30 miles an hour when necessary. The average human swims at 2 miles per hour, so prepare accordingly!
The mako shark is well-known as the much smaller cousin of the Great White. The male of the species measures up to 8 feet, and females can grow as long as 13 feet. The Great White shows an impressive size advantage, growing to an average of 21 feet and 5,000 pounds. The largest Great White ever recorded was 35 feet long!
The mako is built like a bullet – lean and muscular, with its weight evenly distributed along its body. Its seemingly aerodynamic shape allows it to propel to incredible speeds with immense bursts of energy. The Great White is built more like a linebacker, carrying all its weight closer to the front, up by the gills. The bulk of this beast is precisely why it is the fiercest predator of our modern age.
The teeth of both species are awesome, but there are specific ways to identify these shark teeth. While Great White teeth are triangular and serrated, mako shark teeth are pointed and angled inward, fanned out within the mouth, and can be seen outside the mouth. Mako shark teeth are a full display of strength, long and thin, ideal for grasping and ripping prey. Unlike the mako shark teeth, Great White teeth are designed to cut through thick flesh and bones with serrated edges.
Comparing the size of mako shark teeth and the Great White, it is interesting to note that the largest mako shark teeth discovered were 3 inches long, and the largest modern Great White tooth is a comparable 3 inches as well. Their distant (and ancient) cousin, the Megalodon, had teeth measuring up to 7 inches in length! One benefit of mako shark teeth is that many range closer to 1 – 1 ½ inches in length and make beautiful pieces of jewelry.
While each of these distinguishing characteristics should be helpful when identifying if you have a mako or a Great White at the end of your fishing line, only one results in a fantastic addition to your fossil collection in the form of absolutely stunning jewelry.
Mako Shark Teeth Make Beautiful Jewelry
It is widely known that shark teeth are considered a sign of good luck! Surfers wear shark tooth necklaces for more than just style. They believe them to be a talisman or charm to prevent sharks from attacking and for protection while at sea. Putting out positive intentions for good waves and safe surfing are excellent reasons for wearing a necklace made with mako shark teeth.
Mako shark teeth necklaces are often made from fossilized shark teeth that have been found washed up on beaches. Shark teeth collectors say the beaches in Florida south of the Venice Jetty, including Casey Key and Manasota Key, hold a bountiful cache of fossilized shark teeth, including mako shark teeth. This area sits on top of a fossil layer that runs 18-35 feet deep, driving fossils into shallow waters with stormy weather and waves. Whether or not they are fossilized, mako shark teeth are collected due to their beauty.
Shark teeth are interesting to collect because they come in all shapes and sizes. Sharks are known to have rows and rows of teeth and can lose up to 40 teeth per week. These teeth are readily replaced by those in the rows behind them, allowing some shark species to produce up to 50,000 teeth in their lifetime. Collecting shark teeth can be a very bountiful activity! Creating a necklace from mako shark teeth can be more than an activity; it can be art!
Have you ever seen a Hypnotizing Fossil Mako Tooth Pendant or a Shapley Fossil Mako Tooth Pendant? Either of these prized pieces will entirely change your mind about mako shark teeth and fossils! The beauty of fossilized mako shark teeth is accentuated when handled by skilled purveyors of fossils and specialized jewelry. Whether you are a collector or just starting your collection of crystals, fossils, or beautiful mako shark teeth jewelry, you will love asking questions and knowing the story of each piece within your collection.
Shark teeth are a special part of history. Understanding the predators of the past opens doors to knowledge of our modern oceans and what is yet to come. Appreciating apex predators such as the mako shark, the Great White, and even the Megalodon’s storied history sheds light on our waters’ greatest depths and encourages further exploration. Create more than just a beautiful jewelry collection with your mako shark teeth, start an obsession with the history of apex predators!