When you think about creatures residing in the deep that spark your primal fear, sharks definitely come to mind. From dangerous extinct species like Megalodon to prehistoric Mako sharks, the list is long. Let’s not forget about the modern sharks or those oceanic predators that began to appear close to 100 million years ago. Modern Mako sharks are closely related to the Great White shark and are one of the most powerful predators to prowl the vast ocean waters today. But did you know they have been featured in The Old Man and the Sea, one of Ernest Hemingway’s works? Want to know more about Mako sharks? Read on!
Two Mako species
Earlier, marine biologists thought the Shortfin Mako or Isurus oxyrhynchus was the only living Mako species but then a second Mako or the Longfin Mako, Isurus paucus, was added to the list in the late 1960s. There are certain similarities between the Makos. Both have conical snouts and a bluish-grey skin, both prefer warm waters and are usually found in tropical or subtropical parts of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. To distinguish one from the other, their flanks are compared. The Longfin Mako’s pectoral fins are much longer.
Shortfin Makos are built for speed
Shortfin Mako has a streamlined, bullet-like body shape and its dorsal and pectoral fins are quite short- these features allow the shark to slice through ocean waters. The scales behind and along the gills are flexible and researchers believe the shark uses its scales to manipulate the water’s flow around its body. These adaptations make it possible for the species to reach the speed of 31 mph which is impressive!
Mako has Maori roots
For the Maoris of New Zealand, shark tooth earrings and necklaces were traditional attire. In fact, Mako is a Maori word that may mean ‘shark tooth’ or ‘shark.’ Although Longfin Makos are not found in New Zealand waters, Shortfins are. They especially frequent the country’s northern end.
Growth and maturation rates of shortfins are slow
The gestation period for Shortfins is believed to last between 15 to 18 months. At birth, Shortfin pups are usually 25 to 28 inches long. Males mature into full-fledged adults between 7 to 9 years but females hit the benchmark only between 18 to 21 years of age. With an estimated lifespan of 29-32 years, the slow maturation rates make it difficult for their population to bounce back, if it witnesses decline.
There have been headlines of Shortfins jumping into boats
Tenacious and fast, Shortfin Mako is considered to be one of the prized game fishes across the globe. They put up quite a fight, you may even say fighting a Mako is akin to wrestling enraged crocodiles or riding a bull. The prehistoric Mako sharks have, after all, been associated with the great white! If it goes airborne, the fight gets tougher. Fun fact, Shortfins are capable of leaping up to 20 feet in the air.
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