Longfin Mako Shark
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Sharks & Rays

Longfin Mako Shark

Isurus paucus

Distribution

Worldwide in tropical to warm-temperate waters

Ecosystem/Habitat

Open ocean (epipelagic to bathypelagic zone)

Feeding Habits

Aggressive predator

Conservation Status

Endangered (Highly Vulnerable To Extinction)

Taxonomy

Class Chondrichthyes, Order Lamniformes (Mackerel sharks), Family Lamnidae (White sharks)

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The longfin mako shark is named for its particularly long pectoral fins that are as long as or longer than its head. Like its close relative the shortfin mako shark, the longfin mako shark is characterized by its large eyes and long, blade-like teeth that protrude from its mouth.1

The longfin mako shark is a large, predatory shark that lives worldwide and reaches a maximum length of 14 feet (4.3 m). The species is considered highly migratory, but very little is known about the biology of longfin mako sharks because they are often mistaken for, and possibly counted as, shortfin makos. Their diet of schooling fish and cephalopods suggests that they are deep-dwelling, and therefore more elusive.2

Longfin mako sharks have slimmer bodies and longer pectoral fins than the shortfin mako shark. Longfin’s unique anatomy leads researchers to believe these sharks are much slower and less active than shortfins and their other white shark relatives, such as the porbeagle shark and the blue shark. It is also believed that longfin mako sharks are endothermic (warm-blooded) and can maintain a body temperature higher than the surrounding water, but this temperature elevation has yet to be measured.1

Longfin mako sharks give live birth to a litter of two to eight pups at a time. During the gestation period, the young eat unfertilized eggs provided by the mother (uterine cannibalism) for nourishment. Female longfin mako sharks may swim to the coasts to give birth.3

Although elusive, longfin mako sharks are not hidden from the global shark fin trade and are victims of bycatch in longline fisheries for pelagic fishes, such as yellowfin tuna, swordfish and sharks. Because they are less abundant and have low reproductive rates, longfin mako sharks are considered endangered. There is insufficient data on the number of longfin mako sharks captured by commercial fisheries. However, longfin mako sharks are often caught on the same fishing gear as shortfin mako sharks, which have experienced a significant decline in global population size (50-79% in the over the last 75 years), suggesting that longfins may have experienced a similar decline.2

 

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Fun Facts About Longfin Mako Sharks

1. The longfin mako shark got its name from its long pectoral fins that can be longer than its head, or 23 to 31 percent of its total body length.3

2. There has never been a reported attack by a longfin mako shark on a human.1

3. Longfin mako sharks can grow to be 14 feet (4.3 m) long, with females growing larger than males.2

 

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Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.

 

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References:

1 Florida Museum

2 IUCN Red List

3 FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture

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