Mako sharks are either of two species of fast, active and potentially dangerous sharks of the mackerel shark family; the shortfin mako and longfin mako sharks. Also known as the blue pointer, sharp-nosed mackerel, or bonito shark, mako sharks range throughout temperate and tropical seas on the planet. They are a fairly large species of shark, with an average adult weighing about 132 to 298 lb – making them a prized catch among recreational fisherman. Recently, a group of fishermen found the biggest mako shark to shatter the state record in Georgia. How big was this individual? Read on to find out!
Where to Find Mako Sharks
The shortfin mako shark’s natural habitat corresponds to the world’s temperate and tropical oceans. The closely related longfin mako shark is scattered worldwide in tropical seas such as the Gulf Stream or warmer offshore waters. The mako shark is a pelagic species found from the ocean’s surface to depths of up to 490 ft (150 meters), occasionally closer to the coasts. As an endothermic shark, it is rarely found in waters colder than 16 °C (61 °F). Larger concentrations of mako sharks are found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, as well as in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean.
How to Identify Mako Sharks
The shortfin mako shark has a slender cylindrical body shape and a vertically elongated tail. It can be identified by its countershading, with a distinct line of demarcation between the metallic blue coloration dorsally and white ventrally. Its teeth are slender, large, and sharp, long enough to stand out even when the shark closes its mouth. The mako shark has a pointed snout, with the underside of the snout and the area around the mouth being white. However, in young individuals, the tip of the snout has a clear black stain.
It is important to note that the longfin mako shark closely resembles its close relative, the shortfin mako shark. However, the longfin mako shark can be differentiated by its larger eyes, larger pectoral fins, and dark rather than pale coloration around its mouth.
What is the Biggest Mako Shark Ever Caught in Georgia?
The biggest mako shark ever caught in Georgia was a shortfin mako weighing a whopping 400 pounds and measuring about 8 feet 1 inch in length and 4 feet 11 inches in circumference. This big catch was caught off the South Bryan County coast in 2017 and was confirmed as the new state record.
Other Big Mako Sharks on Record
A giant shortfin mako fish caught off Marmaris, Turkey, in the late 1950s was estimated at 18.7 and 20.3 ft (5.7 to 6.19 m) long –making it the largest known specimen of the species.
Another specimen caught off the coast of Italy in 1881 was reported to weigh an enormous 2,200lb (1,000 kg) and 13 ft (4 m) long.
The longest verified length for a mako shark was 14.6 ft (4.45m), caught off the France coast of the Mediterranean in September 1973.
Another big mako shark weighing 2,300 lb (600kg) was caught on hook-and-line off the coast of California on June 3, 2013.
What Do Mako Sharks Eat?
The mako shark’s diet consists mainly of bony fish, including large tunas, mackerels, and swordfish. They feed on a wide variety of prey. They may also eat other sharks, sea turtles, small marine mammals, seabirds, and dead organic matter. Mako sharks hunt by lunging vertically up and tearing off their prey’s flanks and fins. Interestingly, they are known to consume 3% of their weight every day and take about 1.5 to 2 days to digest a meal.
Mako Shark: As Game Fish
Reaching top speeds of 46 mph and capable of traveling up to 48 miles per day, shortfin mako sharks are the fastest known species in the water. Not only are they fast-swimming sharks, but they are also prized for their incredible fighting qualities and ability to jump up to 9 meters out of the water – making them a highly sought-after game fish worldwide.
Nicknamed “the peregrine falcon of the sharks,” they are fast runners, carrying out repeated jumps when hooked, and heavy fights that entertain anglers. Some shortfin mako sharks have been reported to be seen jumping into a boat after having been hooked. This exciting behavior makes mako fishing a prominent activity worldwide –and the shortfin mako a prized catch among recreational fisherman.
Do Mako Sharks Attack Humans?
Even though the mako shark will not normally attack humans, this species has been involved in several attacks on humans. Due to its size, speed, and strength, it is considered perfectly capable of injuring and killing people. The International Shark Attack File documented 9 shortfin attacks on humans between 1580 and 2022, three of which were fatal and 20 were boat attacks. Most modern attacks involving shortfin mako sharks occur when the shark is provoked, either by being harassed or caught on a fishing line. It is considered dangerous to humans because of the swiftness at which it can attack and its ability to jump into fishing boats.
Conservation Status of the Mako Shark
The mako shark has been targeted for both sport and commercial fishing, and it is also a victim of bycatch in driftnet fisheries. These species are valued for the high quality of their flesh, oil, fins, liver, and cartilage, while their strong jaws and teeth are used as decorative objects and trophies. The species is currently classified as Endangered by the IUCN, having been uplisted from Vulnerable in 2019 and Near-Threatened in 2007. The shark is included in Appendix II of CITES which regulates international trade.
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