The Fall of the Mako


Nicole Long, Staff Editor/Staff Writer

There are two species of Mako sharks; the first is the Shortfin Mako, and the second is the Longfin Mako. ISAF (International Shark Attack File) records date the Shortfin back to the 1580s, but the Longfin was only discovered 52 years ago, in 1966, by Cuban Marine Biologist, Dario Guitart Manday. According to JSTOR (Journal Storage), the first North American record for the Longfin Mako, was made in 1975 when an adult female was found partially-grounded in the surf at Melbourne Beach, in Brevard County, Florida. The shark was found with the jaws removed and missing its left eye.

The scientific name for the Longfin Mako is Isurus paucus. The word, paucus, is Latin for few, and is referring to the rarity of the species. The scientific name for the Shortfin Mako is Isurus oxyrinchus. The word, oxyrinchus, means sharp nose from the Greek origin. According to MOU CMS (Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks), “…the makos [both] possess a pointed snout, a crescent-shaped tail with pronounced keels and an efficient heat exchange and retention physiology.”

There are few reported attacks on humans by Longfin Makos, but there are 9 Shortfin records, including 20 boat attacks. The Longfins are found mostly in the fisheries along the coast of Cuba and the longline fisheries on the coast of Japan, and the Shortfins in the tropical waters near the same area. These sharks are most commonly found back in the ocean with their fins and tails removed, due to poaching. That is why Project Aware has developed a petition to save these sharks, that are considered “Vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List. Vulnerable is the stage right before “Endangered” because of their constant decreasing population.

According to Project Aware, “…ICCAT released a report on the dire status of Atlantic mako shark populations, revealing serious overfishing and depletion in the North Atlantic. The new analyses show that the North Atlantic mako population has a 54% chance of recovering from the years of overfishing by 2040…leaving scientists to recommend a complete and immediate ban on retaining makos from the region.”

Join them and the Shark League partners in “urging top fishing nations to prohibit retention of Atlantic Mako sharks immediately.” If you wish to read more or sign the petition, then please go to the Project Aware website.