There exist two types of Mako sharks: the short-finned Mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus, and the long-finned Mako shark, Isurus paucus. The long-finned Mako shark is typically slimmer and has very broad pectoral fins, which is probably a sign of this species being a slower swimmer than the short-finned Mako shark. The life of the long-finned Mako shark remains largely unknown, but it is believed to spend a lot time slowly cruising in the epipelagic zone.
The short-finned Mako shark
The short-finned Mako shark is also known as Shortfin mako. Its body is long and moderately slender. The snout of this shark is very conical and the eyes are comparatively large. The teeth are large and look like blades, and are not serrated. The pectoral fins are broad and have narrow tips, and the anterior margins are smaller than the length of the shark's head. The first dorsal fin is large, while the second fin and the dorsal fin are much smaller. The caudal fin is shaped like a crescent. You can notice strong keels on the caudal peduncle, but there are never any secondary keels found on the caudal base.
The largest known Short-finned Mako shark was 394 cm long. A female short-finned Mako shark will reach maturity when she is around 280 cm long and the largest known short-finned Mako shark was a female. The males will mature at approximately 195 cm and are known to grow to a length of at least 284 cm.
The Short-finned Mako shark is an oceanic, temperate and tropical shark. It is very common and has been sighted in the Western Atlantic, the Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean, the Indo-West Pacific, the Central Pacific and the Eastern Pacific. It likes both tropical and warm temperate waters, but is rarely seen where the water temperature is less than 16°C. The Short-finned Mako sharks that live in the extreme northern and southern parts of this species range will often follow the seasonal streams of warm waters.
The Short-finned Mako shark is an offshore littoral and epipelagic species, and it inhabits a region from the ocean surface and down to at least 152 metres. It is extremely active, and is most likely much more lively than its close relative, the much less known Long-finned Mako shark. It is one of the fastest swimmers among the shark species, and remarkably swift and rapid movements are significant for this species. It is a vigorous jumper and can leap a distance several times its own length. It is famous for its amazing displays of power and strength when chasing a prey.
The staple food for the Short-finned Mako shark is fish, but it is an opportunistic hunter and will happily eat a wide range of foods. Among the most commonly consumed fish species are tuna, mackerel, anchovies, grunts, herrings, cod, Australian salmon, sea bass, swordfish and lancet fish. It will also eat other sharks, such as grey shark, hammerhead shark and blue shark. Other aquatic animals will be consumed if possible, and the Short-finned Mako shark is known to eat turtles and squids. The remains of mammals, such as dolphins, have been found inside Short-finned Mako sharks, but this is not very common. It would however come as no surprise if further research show that mammals are common prey for the largest Short-finned Mako individuals. The largest Short-finned Mako sharks, individuals longer than 3 metres, have upper teeth that are broader and more flattened than the teeth of the smaller sharks. This might be an adaptation to a diet consisting of larger prey, since this shape is more apt for the dismembering of a larger body.
The reproductive method of the Short-finned Mako shark is ovoviviparous, and the offspring is cannibalistic when still inside the body of their mother. The female Short-finned Mako shark gives birth to live pups that are 60-70 cm long when newly born. One litter can contain from 4 to 16 pups.
The Long-finned Mako shark
The Long-finned Mako shark is also called Longfin Mako. It has a long and slender body with a moderately long conical snout, which is broadly pointed. The eyes are comparatively large and the mouth has a parabolic shape. The teeth of the Long-finned Mako shark are large and blade-shaped, and they have no lateral cusplets or serrations. The lower anterior teeth are protruding somewhat from the jaws and they are in line with the shark's lateral teeth. The pectoral fins of the Longfin Mako are as long as the shark's head, or even longer. They are almost straight and has very broad tips. The first dorsal fin is largest and has a light free rear tip. The caudal fin is shaped like a crescent. The largest known Long-finned Mako shark was 417 centimetres long.
The Long-finned Mako shark has a dark blue colouration or display grey-black shades. The head is dark and this colouration reaches over the gill septa and extends over the flanks and ventrally down to the belly. The underside of the shark is white, but the underside of the snout and jaw is dark in mature Long-finned Mako sharks. Large immature sharks can also display this dark colour, but it is never seen in really young Long-finned Mako sharks. The pelvic fin and the first dorsal fin are always dark in all Long-finned Mako sharks. The anal fin is white on the rear tip and posterior margin, the rest is dark.
We still do not know exactly where the Long-finned Mako shark lives, since it is often mistaken for the short-finned Mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus. Long-finned Mako sharks have been spotted in the Western Atlantic, the Eastern Atlantic, the Western Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific, the Central Pacific and the Eastern Pacific. There have also been reports of Long-finned Mako sharks living in the Mediterranean, but these sightings are still unconfirmed.
The life of the Long-finned Mako sharks still remains largely unknown to science. We know that it is an epipelagic, tropical and warm-temperate shark. It is believed to be spending a lot of time at great depths, but this is still not determined. As mentioned above, it is probably a slower swimmer than the Short-finned Mako shark and is most likely spending most of its time slowly cruising in the epipelagic zone. It is presumed to eat large pelagic cephalopods and schooling fish, but the details of its diet have not been researched. In 1993, a swordfish was found stuck inside the belly of a Long-finned Mako shark.
The female Long-finned Mako shark gives birth to live pups. It seems as though Long-finned Mako sharks sometimes like to remain closer to land than usual when giving birth. The Long-finned Mako shark is an ovoviviparous species, and cannibalism occurs among the offspring while they are still inside the body of the female. A newborn Long-finned Mako shark is typically 92-120 cm long and one batch contain 2-8 pups.
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