Mako sharks are among the fastest fish in the ocean, even faster than the famous great white shark, blue whale or killer whale. Makos, also known as bonito sharks or blue pointers, are the cheetahs of the sea. The largest mako shark ever recorded is simply amazing, both for its size and what it represents.
Here we learn how big the largest mako shark ever recorded was and why there is some debate as to what counts as the official world record. Along the way, we’ll learn more about mako sharks as a species, including whether or not they pose a threat to humans. Then we will find out if these fascinating hunters of the ocean are endangered. Finally, we learn how important sharks are to the marine ecosystem and what you can do to save them.
Read on to learn more about the largest mako shark ever recorded!
Getting to know the Mako Shark
Mako sharks are among the fastest predators in our oceans today. They live in tropical and temperate waters around the world. Young mako spend their time near shore while mature adults swim the open oceans in search of game. They mature slowly, with females taking about 20 years to become sexually mature. And they only have a few puppies at a time.
size and appearance
Mako sharks are over two feet long at birth. Males grow to around nine feet in length, while females can measure over 14 feet at their tallest point. Mako sharks have streamlined, narrow bodies with pointed noses and large eyes. Their tails are incredibly powerful, propelling them through the water while chasing down some of the fastest fish in the ocean.
diet and behavior
Mako sharks have many rows of narrow, needle-like teeth designed to grab onto slippery fish. They primarily eat mackerel, tuna, swordfish, and bonito, in addition to cephalopods such as squid and squid. They have also been found to eat seabirds, sea turtles, other sharks and even porpoises. But speed isn’t all they have; Mako sharks also have some of the strongest measured bite forces of any shark.
Makos almost never stay in one place. Instead, they spend their lives migrating up and down coasts, to the open ocean and back near shore. They follow the big game fish and can often be seen completely breaching the surface of the water when hunting.
Are Mako Sharks Dangerous to Humans?
Although they can grow to over ten feet in length (in females), mako sharks rarely fatally attack humans. Only ten cases of unprovoked mako shark attacks on humans have been recorded, one of which ended fatally. Your chances of having a negative interaction with a mako shark are slim.
The Greatest Mako Ever Recorded: Official
According to the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), which keeps records of the world’s largest landed fish, the largest mako shark on record died in 2001. It was killed by a fisherman at 130 off the coast of Chatham , Massachusetts, caught up with lb line. The shark, a female, weighed 1,221 pounds and was probably more than 11 feet long.
But the Massachusetts mako isn’t the only large mako shark to have landed off the coast of the United States. Let’s take a look at another giant mako that cannot be included in the IGFA world record list due to bureaucratic reasons.
The biggest (unofficial) Mako ever recorded
In 2013, a California fisherman landed and killed a mako shark, even larger than the officially largest mako on record. The California mako weighed 1,323 pounds and was over 11 feet long. By weight, it is probably the heaviest mako on record. However, because the fisherman may have had help reeling in the giant fish, it cannot be counted as the official IGFA largest mako on record. Nevertheless, the legend of this giant mako lives on.
Are Mako Sharks Endangered?
As of 2019, shortfin mako sharks were classified as vulnerable. Previously, when the world record-holding mako and its unofficial competitor were fished, mako were classified as vulnerable. Today, mako sharks are uniquely endangered due to their slow rates of reproduction and maturation. As with many shark species, their populations have declined in recent decades due to overfishing, death from bycatch, pollution, and the demand for shark fin soup.
Why sharks are important and what you can do to conserve them
Today, shark populations have declined by up to 90%. That means there are far fewer sharks, and fish in general, in our oceans today than there were decades ago. Sharks are both apex predators and keystone species, so their disappearance from our oceans could have catastrophic effects on the entire food web. Our marine ecosystems depend on sharks like the mako shark, which is why it’s so important to conserve them now before they disappear.
One of the first steps you can take is to educate yourself about sharks. Just learning that they aren’t the vicious cannibals that popular culture made them out to be can make a world of difference. Avoid single-use plastics, as many end up in our oceans, and choose sustainable seafood options. Finally, learn about the shark fin soup industry and avoid eating shark meat.