They’re the peregrine falcons of the shark world. With torpedo-like bodies and a biochemistry that gives them a sneaky advantage, the shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus) is one of my favorites.
And they’re sort of derpy, and who doesn’t love some derp?
These cruising machines are cosmopolitan, following warmer waters as you can see in the distribution map. They are a true-blue pelagic species, sometimes dipping their fins cooler, deeper waters. Like the great white, they have the ability to elevate their body temperature seven to ten degrees higher than that of surrounding water, they are able to go into the colder waters of 5-11°C (41-52°F). This also gives them a physical advantage over their prey, like mackerels, tunas, bonitos, swordfish, other sharks, sea turtles, etc.
Their teeth are specially adapted as skinny, pointy daggers for their slippery meals not to slip away.
Point of that: These fish are fast. Wicked fast.
And they can jump, too! Shortfin mako sharks have been reported to leap up to 30 feet out of the water into the air. Wow. That’s even higher than the mighty Jaws.
Shortfin makos host a variety of parasitic copepods, including Dinemoura latifolia, Echthrogaleus denticulatus, Pandarus smithi, Anthosoma crassum, and Nemesis lamna.
There are a few concerns with this particular shark, besides the parasites. There is some worry over limited genetic flow between geographically distinct populations of shortfin makos, as very little is known of their social habits (except that they’re solitary). Shortfin makos are slow to grow, males reaching maturity no earlier than 8 years of age and females not before 18 years. Ouch. If that wasn’t bad enough, they have a three-year reproductive cycle. All these signs point to this animal being vulnerable to overfishing pressures. They’re mostly hunted for sport, as they aren’t too big but put up one hell of a fight.
For now, their IUCN status Conservation Status: Vulnerable, due to the sheer number of them being hunted for sport, but also because they are aggressive in nature. Although smaller than most sharks, they are territorial of their environment and have been known to attack humans with one fatality. Don’t underestimate these sharks- they pack a heck of a bite!
That doesn’t mean be afraid of them, though. Like all animals, they should be respected! I mean, look at that derp face (above). And they can speedily get you your pizza from Domino's! What's not to love?