Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Shortfin Mako Shark

Isurus oxyrinchus


Fun Facts

    The shortfin mako shark is able to elevate its body temperature almost 20°F above the surrounding water.

    Shortfin mako sharks are capable of bursts of speed up to 46 miles per hour.




The shortfin mako shark is a lamniform shark that lives in the open ocean. Shortfin mako sharks occur near the surface down to depths of 150 meters (490 feet) worldwide. The body is bright blue above becoming a lighter blue on the sides and white below. The robust body is fusiform-shaped and the snout is long and pointed. The dorsal fin is large and sits high on the body. Shortfin mako sharks can grow up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) long.

Shortfin mako sharks feed primarily on bony fishes, such as mackerel, swordfish, tuna, bonito, anchovies, herring, and sardines. Larger sharks also feed on sea turtles and dolphins. The shortfin mako shark consumes 3% of its body weight each day. Females give birth to live young with litters ranging from four to 25 young. Birth takes place between late winter and mid-spring following a 15- to 18-month gestation period. Males become mature at about four years and females at about seven years. Shortfin mako sharks can have a life span of about 25 to 30 years.

A commercial fishery was established in the early 1980s in Southern California for mako sharks. Very little is known about the population structure of the local mako shark, other than juveniles seem to be abundant in California’s coastal waters. The shortfin mako shark is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

To learn more about shortfin mako sharks and their relatives, visit the Sharks & Rays Room and the Open Ocean Room at the Aquarium.