Shortfin mako shark

Isurus oxyrinchus

Shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus). Image credit Walter Heim.

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Distribution: Oceanic and epipelagic in warm-temperate and tropical seas worldwide; in the eastern Pacific from Chile to the Columbia River; juveniles are also common in neritic waters. Found within the U.S. West Coast EEZ from the U.S.-Mexico border northward to Washington; most common off California. Much of the U.S. West Coast catch is comprised of juvenile fish with some adult-sized males; adult females are rarely taken. When large specimens are caught, they usually occur around the Channel IslandsThe previous link is a link to Non-Federal government web site. Click to review NOAA Fisheries disclaimer and outer banks of the Southern California Bight in late summer, suggesting some limited seasonal incursion of adults around this time. The southern and western boundaries of the nursery area have yet to be defined. From the distribution of pups in the observed drift net catch, nursery habitat utilization appears concentrated in the Southern California Bight area, particularly south of Los Angeles to the Mexico-California border.

Juvenile fish that inhabit southern California waters appear to be resident for an estimated two years after birth, judging from the high tag recapture rates of tagged juvenile in the Southern California Bight and presumed size at age. Thereafter, they presumably move offshore or to the south. Many fish tagged in the Southern California Bight (mostly juveniles) have been recaptured locally, but some have been taken as far north as Point Area, northern California; as far south as Acapulco, Mexico; and as far west as off Hawaii.

Growth and Development: The largest shortfin mako shark documented off the U.S. West Coast was an 11.5 ft ( 351 cm) individual (total length or TL). Normal size caught off the U.S. West Coast is from 213-244 cm TL (~6-7 ft). Results differ between age and growth studies done to date, and are primarily dependent on how one interprets the periodical deposition of calcified growth zones deposited in the vertebrae that are used for ageing.

Feeding: Division work has just begun on large mako shark food habits, because in-depth trophic studies have not been undertaken off the West Coast or elsewhere. Higher research longlining catches during the day versus night suggests the species feeds predominantly during the day. Reportedly feeds on mackerel, bonito, anchovy, tuna, marine mammals, marlin, other sharks, and squid off California.

Conservation and management: Important fisheries data is missing for the shortfin mako and the most recent ISC stock assessment for shortfin mako sharks shows that the stock status of the species cannot be determined without more information. 

Last modified: 12/8/2015