Two species of Mako sharks, close relatives of great white sharks, inhabit the world’s oceans – shortfin makos and longfin makos. One characteristic that sets these sharks apart is their speed: the shortfin mako shark holds the record for being the fastest shark in the sea, and is among the fastest swimming fish in the world.


The shortfin mako shark has been clocked at a sustained speed of 20 mph, but it can double or triple that speed for short periods of time.

Shortfin makos can reliably accelerate to 46 mph, and some individuals may even reach 60 mph. Their torpedo-shaped bodies enable them to surge through the water at such a rapid speed. Mako sharks also have tiny, flexibile scales covering their body, allowing them to control the flow of water over their skin and minimize drag. And shortfin makos aren’t just fast; they can also change direction in a split second. Their remarkable speed and maneuverability make them lethal predators.


Any large shark, including the mako, can be dangerous when encountered. Mako sharks have long, sharp teeth, and they can quickly overtake any potential prey thanks to their speed. However, mako sharks don’t usually swim in the shallow, coastal waters where most shark attacks occur. Deep sea fishermen and SCUBA diversencounter shortfin mako sharks more often than swimmers and surfers. Only eight mako shark attacks have been documented, and none was fatal.


The mako shark averages about 10 feet long and 300 pounds, but the largest individuals can weigh well over 1,000 pounds. Makos are metallic silver on the underside, and a deep, shiny blue on the top. The main difference between shortfin makos and longfin makos is, as you may have guessed, the length of their fins.

Longfin mako sharks have longer pectoral fins with broad tips.

Mako sharks have pointed, conical snouts, and cylindrical bodies, which minimizes water resistance and makes them hydrodynamic. The caudal fin is lunate in form, like a crescent-shaped moon. A firm ridge just ahead of the caudal fin, called a caudal keel, increases their fin stability when swimming. Mako sharks have large, black eyes and five long gill slits on each side. Their long teeth usually protrude from their mouths.


Mako sharks belong to the family of mackerel or white sharks. The mackerel sharks are large, with pointed snouts and long gill slits, and they’re known for their speed. The mackerel shark family includes just five living species: porbeagles (Lamna nasus), salmon sharks (Lamna ditropis), shortfin makos (Isurus oxyrinchus), longfin makos (Isurus paucus), and great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias).

Mako sharks are classified as follows:

Kingdom – Animalia (animals)
Phylum – Chordata (organisms with a dorsal nerve cord)
Class – Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
Order – Lamniformes (mackerel sharks)
Family – Lamnidae (mackerel sharks)
Genus – Isurus
Species – Isurus spp.

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