Weighing up to 1000 pounds and growing up to 13 feet, the shortfin mako is streamlined, with a bright blue back shading to lighter blue on the sides and white on the belly. It has a sharply pointed nose, a flattened caudal peduncle and a crescent shaped tail. The large dorsal fin begins just behind the base of the pectoral fins. Its teeth set it apart from other sharks, as they are thin, curved and lack serrations. Similar to the great white, mako keep their body temperature warmer than the surrounding water using a high metabolic rate and heat-exchange system. They are excellent swimmers, reaching speeds of 22 to 50 miles per hour and covering thousands of miles in a short time span.
This shark is a blue water denizen that feeds mainly on mackerels, tunas, bonitos and swordfish but may also eat other sharks, porpoises, sea turtles and seabirds, and routinely ambushes its prey from below. They lunge up vertically and tear off chunks of their prey's flanks and fins, then circle back to finish off their meal. Female shortfin makos usually become sexually mature at a length of approximately 10 feet. Embryos feed on unfertilized eggs in the uterus during the gestation period of 15-18 months and survivors are born at a length of approximately 27.5 inches in late winter and/or early spring.
Fishing for mako has grown in popularity over the past few years, particularly in areas off Southern California, from Los Angeles to San Diego, and off Long Island, New York – particularly from the port of Montauk. One basic fly technique involves chumming to attract sharks, followed by enraging the fish with a hookless teaser. Once the mako is within casting range, the bait is pulled out of the water, with the fly caster tossing his line and (large) fly into the mix. The largest fly tackle – 14 weight and above – is recommended to tame these powerful beasts.
Mako sharks are found around the world in warm and temperate seas.
The shortfin mako inhabits offshore temperate and tropical seas worldwide. It is a pelagic species that can be found from the surface down to depths of 500 feet, normally far from land though occasionally closer to shore around islands or inlets. One of only four known warm-blooded sharks, the shortfin mako is seldom found in waters colder than 61 degrees Fahrenheit.