The Endangered Status Of Mako Sharks

9 min read

Many species of sharks are currently facing endangerment due to various factors such as overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change. In this discussion, we will focus on one specific species, the Mako shark. Mako sharks, known for their impressive speed and sleek appearance, are highly sought after for their meat, fins, and sport fishing value. However, their popularity has led to a significant decline in their populations, raising concerns about their long-term survival.

The Mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is a large, pelagic species found in both temperate and tropical oceans around the world. With their streamlined bodies, capable of reaching speeds up to 45 miles per hour, Makos are considered one of the fastest shark species. Despite their agility and strength, Makos are particularly vulnerable to overfishing due to their slow population growth rate and late maturity. As a result, they have been classified as an endangered species by several agencies and international organizations. The decline in Mako shark populations has prompted scientists and conservationists to study their population dynamics and advocate for stronger conservation measures to protect these magnificent creatures.


Habitat is an essential aspect to consider when discussing the endangerment of Mako sharks. Makos are pelagic species, which means they inhabit open ocean areas rather than coastal regions. They are highly migratory and have been recorded in tropical, temperate, and even some colder waters. The preferred habitat of Mako sharks includes the epipelagic and mesopelagic zones, as they are known to frequent surface and sub-surface waters.

These sharks are considered apex predators, and their habitat is crucial for their survival. They are commonly found in areas where prey is abundant, such as areas with high concentrations of tuna, swordfish, and other pelagic fish. Makos are characterized by their incredible speed and agility, allowing them to chase down and capture their fast-moving prey.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Damian Coco.

However, the open ocean habitat of Mako sharks poses several challenges. One major threat to their population is overfishing, as Makos are often targeted for their valuable fins and meat. The intense fishing pressure, combined with their slow reproductive rate, makes them highly susceptible to population decline.

Additionally, climate change and habitat degradation play a significant role in determining the future of Mako sharks. The warming of ocean waters and changes in currents can disrupt their migratory patterns and alter the availability of prey. Furthermore, pollution and plastic debris can negatively impact the quality of their habitat and lead to detrimental consequences for their survival.


The population of Mako sharks is a key aspect to consider when evaluating their endangerment status. The population refers to the total number of individuals of a particular species within a specific area or region. In the case of Mako sharks, understanding their population is crucial in determining their conservation status and implementing appropriate management strategies.

To assess the population of Mako sharks, scientists employ various methods, such as scientific surveys, tagging programs, and genetic analysis. These methods help estimate the size, distribution, and genetic diversity of the Mako shark population. The data collected through these research techniques provide insights into their abundance and potential risks they may face.

Monitoring Mako shark populations is essential as it allows scientists to identify any decline in numbers or changes in distribution patterns. A significant decrease in Mako shark population may indicate threats to their survival, such as overfishing, habitat degradation, or climate change. Additionally, understanding the population structure and genetic diversity of Mako sharks can help assess their resilience and adaptability to environmental changes.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Ruben Galante.

Assessing the population of Mako sharks is an ongoing process that requires consistent data collection and analysis. By actively monitoring their population, scientists can inform policymakers, conservation organizations, and fisheries management bodies about the status of Mako sharks. This information serves as a basis for implementing effective conservation measures, such as establishing protected areas, regulating fishing practices, and promoting sustainable fisheries to ensure the long-term survival of Mako sharks in their natural habitats.

Fishing Practices

Fishing practices play a crucial role in the conservation of shark species such as the Mako shark. Several fishing methods are employed that target both commercial and recreational sectors. One such practice is longline fishing, where a mainline with numerous baited hooks is set in the water column. This method often leads to unintended bycatch, including Mako sharks. Bycatch mortality is a significant concern, as it can lead to a decline in Mako shark populations.

Another practice is gillnet fishing, which uses walls of mesh netting to trap fish by their gills. This method is notorious for unintentional catches, including Mako sharks. Due to the nature of gillnets, numerous sharks can become entangled and potentially suffocate. This can have severe consequences for Mako shark populations, particularly if not properly regulated.

Furthermore, shark finning is a highly destructive fishing practice. It involves capturing sharks, removing their fins, and discarding the rest of the body back into the water. Although banned in many countries, it still occurs illegally in some regions. Mako sharks are often targeted for their fins, which are highly valued in the shark fin trade. This practice contributes significantly to the decline of Mako shark populations globally.

Given the importance of regulating fishing practices to protect Mako sharks, international efforts have been made to implement sustainable measures. For example, some countries have established quotas or seasonal closures to limit the capture of Mako sharks. Additionally, governments and organizations have introduced measures to prohibit shark finning and promote responsible fishing practices.


Image from Pexels, photographed by billow926.

Conservation Efforts

Conservation efforts focused on Mako sharks aim to protect and preserve these species due to their endangered status. Various measures have been implemented to address the threats facing these sharks. One important aspect of conservation efforts involves establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) where Mako sharks can find refuge and their habitats can be preserved. MPAs serve as sanctuaries, safeguarding important feeding and breeding grounds, thus aiding in the recovery of Mako populations.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Craig Adderley.

Furthermore, fisheries management plays a crucial role in conservation efforts. Implementing regulations such as catch limits, size restrictions, and gear modifications can help minimize accidental capture and bycatch of Mako sharks. These measures reduce the fishing pressure on Mako populations and promote sustainable fishing practices. Additionally, raising awareness among fishermen about the significance of Mako shark conservation can encourage their active participation in conservation efforts.

International collaboration is also crucial in conserving Mako sharks. Governments, scientists, and conservation organizations work together to develop and implement international agreements that aim to protect sharks and their habitats. This includes advocating for stricter regulations on the trade of shark products and encouraging countries to adopt policies that conserve these endangered species.


Reproduction is an essential aspect of the survival and persistence of any species, including Mako sharks. These sharks have a unique reproductive strategy known as ovoviviparity, which means that the embryos develop inside the female’s body but depend on nutrients from an egg yolk rather than a placenta. This allows the female Mako shark to give birth to live young.

In terms of mating, male Mako sharks have claspers, which are specialized reproductive organs located on the inner side of their pelvic fins. During mating, the male inserts one of its claspers into the female’s cloaca to transfer sperm. This process ensures fertilization of the eggs.

Once fertilized, the embryo develops inside the female’s body for a gestation period of approximately 15 to 18 months. This relatively long gestation period results in relatively small litters, typically consisting of 4 to 25 pups, depending on the size and age of the female. Mako sharks exhibit a biennial reproductive cycle, meaning that females reproduce once every two years.

The reproductive biology of Mako sharks can have implications for their conservation. The long gestation period and relatively small litter size make Mako sharks vulnerable to overfishing. This slow reproductive rate means that populations are slow to recover from overexploitation, making Mako sharks particularly susceptible to becoming endangered.

Predatory Behavior

Predatory behavior refers to the actions and strategies employed by an animal to capture and consume its prey. In the case of Mako sharks, their predatory behavior plays a critical role in the marine ecosystem. Makos are among the fastest swimming sharks, enabling them to pursue and capture agile prey such as fish and squid.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Diego Sandoval.

Mako sharks are known for their remarkable speed, which allows them to inflict fatal bites on their prey with their sharp teeth. They possess a streamlined body shape, powerful jaws, and a large caudal fin, all of which contribute to their prowess as predators. Makos employ a range of hunting techniques, including stalking and ambushing, as well as swift and precise attacks to capture their prey.

Their diet primarily consists of small and medium-sized pelagic fish, such as mackerel and tuna, but they are opportunistic feeders and will consume a variety of available prey. Makos often exhibit a sit-and-wait strategy, patrolling areas with a high concentration of potential prey and utilizing their speed to launch surprise attacks when the opportunity arises.

Given their predatory nature, it is essential to consider the impact of human activities on Mako sharks and their populations. Overfishing and habitat degradation can reduce the availability of prey, disrupt migratory patterns, and ultimately contribute to the decline in Mako shark populations. Understanding the intricacies of their predatory behavior is crucial for designing effective conservation strategies to ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures.

Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, the status of Mako sharks warrants significant concern, as their populations are steadily declining. Various threats, including overfishing, bycatch, and habitat loss, are pushing these charismatic creatures towards extinction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists both the shortfin and longfin Mako sharks as vulnerable species, emphasizing the urgent need for conservation efforts.

To address the endangerment of Mako sharks, it is crucial to implement strict regulations on fishing practices and establish marine protected areas where these sharks can thrive. By reducing bycatch through the use of alternative fishing gear and promoting sustainable fishing methods, we can minimize the unintentional harm caused to Mako sharks. Additionally, restoring and protecting their habitats, such as coral reefs and open ocean areas, is essential for their survival. Overall, concerted efforts from governments, conservation organizations, and the public are necessary to ensure the long-term survival of Mako sharks and maintain the delicate balance of our marine ecosystems.

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