Isurus oxyrinchus by mark conlin

Shortfin Mako Shark: Surfs Up!

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We’re taking another trip into the deep blue for this Animal of the Week. A well known predator, this aquatic creature is on record as the FASTEST swimming shark! Yet even with their speed, commercial and sport fishing has led this animal to an “Endangered” status on the IUCN red list. The animal in question is the Shortfin Mako Shark, and as it is a shark, that means it belongs to the family of cartilaginous fish. This shark can reach bursts of speed of up to 42 miles per hour, and the largest ever caught weighed in at over 1,300 pounds! The Shortfin Mako Shark actually has one of the largest brain to body ratios of all sharks studied, leading researchers to study their intelligence further. Their habitat primarily includes tropical and temperate seas worldwide, often found far from land.

Is the mako shark aggressive?

The Shortfin Mako Shark is speedy, powerful, and can definitely be aggressive. While these sharks are not responsible for many unprovoked attacks on humans, with only 2 recorded fatalities, they tend to attack boats aggressively. They are only second to the great white shark when it comes to attacks on boats. This shark is pelagic, so they aren’t usually found near water. However they rank high in provoked attacks, with fisherman and divers being the main groups affected.

How big does a mako shark get?

As stated before, the largest specimen was over 1,300 pounds, however they are smaller on average. Shortfin Mako Sharks are usually between 10-12 feet in length, so still a fairly large shark. Average adults only weigh between 200-400 pounds though, so that big specimen found in Huntington Beach was definitely a behemoth! There have even been larger specimens on record, with one passing 2,000 pounds, however these were estimates from photographs.

Are sharks really afraid of dolphins?

While many people view sharks as the big monsters of the sea, the truth is even a monster gets afraid! And that’s exactly what happens to sharks when dealing with an animal with more intelligence that lives in groups…dolphins! Sharks want to eat anything smaller than them, which leads to a lunch of baby dolphin. As Dolphins have become wise to this, they will often attack and kill sharks they see. In addition to their higher intelligence, Dolphins travel in groups called pods. This is a big danger to a solitary predator like a shark that won’t have backup when a fight starts. Finally, the Orca, also known as Killer Whale is one of the toughest apex predators out there…and they’ve been known to hunt great whites!

Are sharks afraid of magnets?

If you’ve been listening to The Squadcast, you might have heard our hosts discuss the Duck-Billed Platypus. In that episode, they mention that this animal is capable of “electroreception” – almost like a sixth sense to detect electrical currents. Well guess what Defenders…sharks are capable of electroreception as well! This is an amazing sense for a strong predator like a shark, as they can sense their prey from long distances, even without the help of their other senses. However, this almost gives the shark a Kryptonite-like weakness. Researchers began testing the use of permanent magnets to help repel sharks. Over a eight month study, fishing traps using magnets had 30% less sharks caught by accident, leading to more bountiful catching. There is still much research to do though, as a few studies showed an opposite affect for blue sharks and shortfin mako sharks.

 

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