Short Fin Mako Shark

Short Fin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) as seen in our Oregon Coast exhibit.

This animal is not part of an Aquarium exhibit. It a wild species that lives in the open sea and in Oregon coastal waters. It is included here as part of the Aquarium's broad mission to educate about the entirety of the Oregon coastline.

The Shortfin Mako Shark is an unusual species for two major reasons. Along with the Great White Shark, Longfin Mako Shark, Porbeagle Shark and Salmon Shark, it is one of the few endothermic (warm- blooded) species of shark in the world.

The Shortfin Mako also has a unique hunting style. The shark will swim below its prey and then ambush it at high speeds at a vertical angle. Using its powerful jaws, the shark will attempt to severe the tail which will incapacitate the other fish. Once the prey animal is immobilized, the Shortfin Mako will continue to make rapid attacks on the body, ripping out large chunks of flesh with each pass. The animal’s speed is due largely to its endothermic physiology which keeps the body temperature stable even as more energy is expended. Some makos have been recorded swimming at speeds in excess of 30 mph (48 km/h), with short bursts of speed up to 50 mph (80.5 km/h).

This shark generally ranges from 7 to 9 feet (2.1 to 2.7 m) in length. Like many other sharks that feed at the ocean’s surface, they are “countershaded” – meaning that the top of the body is a darker color than the underside.

Range and Habitat

This shark is migratory and can be found mostly in the open ocean off the west coast of North America. Important nursery grounds for the shark are located in the waters off California.

Conservation Status

The Shortfin Mako Short is considered a vulnerable species by most ocean conservation organizations. Although it is often a food source for humans, it is not being sustainably harvested and consumers are urged not to buy or consume this fish.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

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