The mako, a shark with two subspecies (short-fin and long-fin), is one of the most enigmatic marine creatures of all. While the long-fin is rarely seen, the short-fin is encountered by divers in certain spots around the world and sports fishermen who consider the mako a prize catch.
The worlds fastest shark
Reaching speeds at burst of up to 68kph, the short-fin mako is the worlds fastest shark. Just as in other species of Mackerel sharks, the mako has a complex circulatory system that effectively makes it warm blooded, capable of reaching 5-7 degrees Celsius above the water that surrounds them. This biological adaptation allows these faster bursts of speed, and the ability to jump 6 metres into the air.
Feared due to its aggressive looking appearance, long, pointy teeth and a black, wraithlike eye, the mako is often feared and hunted by those uneducated of the ocean ecosystem. Unfortunately, the mako was one of the least protected shark species until now. Due to its pelagic home, the mako is often on the receiving end of by-catch and illegal fishing for fins.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, mako shark populations in the Atlantic have declined by 90% over the last 75 years. This year, the UN and CoP18 in Geneva, Switzerland considered new international protection for mako and other elasmobranch species including the guitarfish. By a vote of 102-40, the global wildlife trade summit approved the proposal for strengthened protection for the species. Its seems damning that progressive countries including Canada, USA and Japan all voted to continue the fishing of mako, as in their words “the population is not overfished”.
Yet again, the arrogance and ignorance of politicians threaten the protection of the ocean. That being said, the vote was a massive victory for these prehistoric species.
Diving with Mako’s
Diving with Mako’s is often complicated as they are a shy and illusive species, preferring hunting scenarios over chumming conditions. For this reason, Mako’s are often seen on the periphery of dives, lurking in the distance. Despite that, if there is an especially large individual, they may approach to impose their size and give divers an experience of a lifetime!
Makos are found in warm to temperate waters around the world. Usually pelagic roaming, they can be found extremely close to shore. The mako prefers waters that range from 17 – 23 degrees Celsius. The Azores, South Africa and Eastern USA are hotspots for the species. In Australia, makos have been seen as far south as Albany and north to the Exmouth region throughout western Australia in warm waters that exceed 100 metres.