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the web of life in southern Africa

Isurus oxyrinchus (Shortfin mako)

Rafinesque, 1810

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Galeomorphii > Lamniformes > Lamnidae

Isurus oxyrinchus (Shortfin mako) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


A large spindle-shaped shark with a sharp snout, large black eyes, and large, narrow, hooked, smooth-edged teeth. Colour brilliant blue above and on sides, abruptly white below.


To 4 m TL.


Entire coast; all temperate and tropical seas.


Coastal and oceanic in warm water, at surface down to 152 m, sometimes close inshore off the surf zone.


A swift, active, powerful shark, readily jumping out of the water. Eats mostly bony fish, but also other sharks, squid, and pelagic dolphins. Bears 2 to 16 young.

Human Impact

Dangerous, but with few unprovoked attacks on people; occasionally attacks boats when hooked or when fish are being landed. Prized by anglers for its fight but its excellent flesh is seldom used here; also caught in the Natal shark nets.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale