Mako Shark Communication: How Do They Converse?

10 min read

Mako sharks, also known as Isurus oxyrinchus, are renowned for their impressive speed and agility in the ocean. Apart from their physical prowess, these creatures possess an equally fascinating ability to communicate with one another. Like many other species of sharks, Mako sharks employ various methods to convey information, establish social hierarchies, and navigate through their underwater environment.

One primary mode of communication for Mako sharks is through body language. They utilize a combination of distinct body movements, such as swimming patterns, posture, and tail flicks, to convey specific messages to other members of their species. These gestures assist in conveying dominance, aggression, courtship, and territorial boundaries. Mako sharks also employ their bodies to display social behaviors, such as mating rituals or cooperative hunting techniques, which further enhance their communication abilities.


Vocalization refers to the ability of organisms to produce sounds for communication purposes. In the case of Mako sharks, vocalization plays an important role in their communication with each other.

Mako sharks produce sounds through a mechanism known as “sonic muscles,” which are specialized muscles attached to their swim bladder. These muscles contract rapidly, causing the swim bladder to vibrate and produce sound waves. These sound waves are then transmitted through the water, allowing the sharks to communicate with one another.

By vocalizing, Mako sharks are able to convey important messages to fellow sharks in their vicinity. These messages can include warnings, territory disputes, courtship, or even territorial marking. This vocal communication helps to establish social hierarchies, locate prey, and coordinate group hunting strategies.

It is important to note that Mako sharks are not the only species of sharks known to vocalize. Other shark species, such as the lemon shark and the nurse shark, have also been observed using vocalization as a means of communication. However, the specific sounds produced and the purposes they serve may vary among shark species.

Body Language

Body language plays a crucial role in communication among Mako sharks. These sleek and powerful creatures utilize a variety of body movements to convey information and interact with other members of their species. Their body language includes both aggressive and submissive displays, allowing them to establish dominance and maintain social order within their community.

When it comes to aggression, Makos use their body language to signal their intent. This can involve arching their back, lowering their pectoral fins, and opening their mouths wide to display their formidable teeth. These aggressive displays are often accompanied by rapid and erratic swimming patterns, which serve to intimidate rivals or threats.

Conversely, Makos also employ submissive body language to establish non-threatening behavior. This may involve swimming with a relaxed posture, not making direct eye contact, and keeping the mouth closed. By exhibiting these behaviors, they show deference to more dominant individuals and avoid confrontations.

Additionally, body language in Mako sharks can be used for courtship and mating rituals. Breaching, which involves leaping out of the water and crashing back down, is a display of strength and fitness, signaling readiness for reproduction. Circular swimming patterns and rubbing against each other are also common courtship behaviors observed in Makos.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Coral Grandbois.

Chemical Signals

Chemical signals play a crucial role in the communication of Mako sharks and many other aquatic animals. These signals are released by the sharks into the water and serve as a form of communication between individuals. Chemical signals are primarily used in the following ways:

1. Social recognition: By releasing specific chemicals into the water, Mako sharks can recognize and identify other individuals. These chemicals, known as pheromones, carry unique information about the sender, such as its sex, reproductive status, or social rank. This helps sharks to establish and maintain social hierarchies within their groups.

2. Reproduction: Chemical signals are vital during the mating season. Male Mako sharks release pheromones into the water to attract females and signal their readiness to mate. Females can detect these signals and use them to select a suitable mate. Chemical communication helps to coordinate mating behaviors and ensures successful reproduction.

3. Territory marking: Mako sharks use chemical signals to define and defend their territories. By releasing specific chemicals, they mark their area and communicate their ownership to other sharks. This helps to avoid conflicts over resources and maintain boundaries within the shark population.

4. Alarm and danger signal: Chemical signals can also serve as an alarm system, warning other sharks of potential threats or dangers in the surroundings. When a shark detects danger, it may release specific chemicals, signaling others to be cautious and alert.

Overall, chemical signals are vital for communication among Mako sharks, enabling them to recognize individuals, attract mates, establish territories, and signal potential dangers. Through the release and detection of these chemical signals, Mako sharks can effectively communicate with one another in their aquatic environment.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Paal Khattra.

Hunting Strategies

Mako sharks employ various hunting strategies to capture prey efficiently. One common strategy is known as stalking, where the shark stealthily approaches its target, utilizing its streamlined body and high swimming speeds to close the distance quickly. By staying low and scanning the water for any signs of prey, the Mako shark can launch a surprise attack, utilizing its sharp teeth and powerful jaws to immobilize the prey.

Another hunting strategy employed by Mako sharks is called the burst-and-bound technique. This strategy involves the shark bursting out of the water to catch fast-moving prey such as schools of fish or even marine mammals. Mako sharks possess a strong muscular body and a crescent-shaped tail, which enables them to swim at remarkable speeds. This burst of speed allows them to move swiftly through the water, closing in on their target before engaging in a sudden, forceful strike.

In addition to stalking and burst-and-bound techniques, Mako sharks also use their acute sense of smell to locate potential prey. They can detect blood or other chemical signals from great distances, enabling them to locate injured or weakened organisms. Once the scent is detected, the Mako shark will follow it until it gets within striking range, relying on its speed and agility to secure a successful capture.

Overall, hunting strategies of Mako sharks include stalking, burst-and-bound techniques, and utilizing their sense of smell to locate prey efficiently. These strategies ensure their survival in the oceanic environment, where they must compete for limited food resources.

Reproduction Behaviors

Reproduction behaviors in sharks involve a complex set of actions and processes aimed at ensuring successful mating and the production of offspring. Mako sharks, known for their impressive speed and agility in the ocean, have unique ways of communicating with each other during the reproductive process.

Mating in mako sharks typically occurs through internal fertilization, where the male inserts his claspers, specialized reproductive organs, into the female’s cloaca. Prior to mating, male makos engage in courtship behavior, which allows them to communicate their interest and readiness to mate with potential female partners. This behavior often involves chasing, biting, and nudging the female to assess her receptivity and to establish dominance.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Magda Ehlers.

Once a receptive female is identified, the male’s courtship behavior becomes more focused, with him swimming alongside her and attempting to position himself for copulation. During this time, the male may also display specific body movements and postures to communicate his intent and readiness. These communication cues are crucial in ensuring successful mating between the male and female mako shark.

After successful copulation, female makos store sperm in a specialized structure called the sperm storage tubules. This allows the female to control the timing of fertilization and increase the chances of successful reproduction. It is important to note that the specific reproductive behaviors and communication patterns may vary between different shark species, including makos.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Engin Akyurt.

Social Hierarchy

Social hierarchy refers to the organization and ranking of individuals within a social group based on their perceived social status and dominance. In the context of Mako sharks, these aquatic creatures exhibit a clear social hierarchy within their groups.

In a Mako shark community, social hierarchy is primarily established through aggressive behaviors and physical interactions. Dominance is usually determined by size, strength, and aggressive posturing. Larger and more powerful individuals tend to occupy the higher ranks within the social hierarchy and have more privileges and access to resources.

Communication plays a crucial role in the establishment and maintenance of the social hierarchy among Mako sharks. Various forms of nonverbal communication, such as body language and visual displays, are employed. For example, dominant individuals may display assertive behaviors, such as arching their backs, puffing up their bodies, or swimming with a heightened sense of confidence. These displays communicate their dominance and authority to other sharks in the group.

Submissive individuals, on the other hand, use different communication cues to acknowledge the dominance of others. They may adopt a more passive body posture, swim in a more cautious manner, or avoid direct eye contact with dominant sharks. These submission signals help maintain social order within the Mako shark community and prevent unnecessary conflicts.

Understanding the social hierarchy within a Mako shark group allows scientists to explore the dynamics of intra-species relationships and observe how power structures affect various aspects of their behavior, including foraging, mating, and territorial disputes. By unraveling the complexities of social organization among Mako sharks, researchers gain valuable insights into the natural world of these fascinating marine creatures.

Migration Patterns

Migration patterns refer to the regular movement of individuals or groups of organisms from one place to another. In the case of Mako sharks, these patterns are influenced by several factors such as food availability, temperature changes, and reproductive needs. Makos are highly migratory species that undertake long-distance journeys across different oceanic regions.

One key aspect of Mako shark migration is their search for prey. Makos are apex predators, and they migrate to areas where their preferred food sources, such as small fish and squid, are abundant. They often follow the movements of their prey, tracking their seasonal distributions. This allows Makos to optimize their feeding opportunities and ensure a sufficient food supply to sustain their energy demands.

Temperature is another critical factor in Mako shark migration. Makos exhibit a preference for warmer waters, and they tend to follow temperature gradients as they migrate. This behavior aligns with their need to maintain an optimal body temperature for efficient metabolism and overall performance. As a result, Makos often migrate to tropical or subtropical regions during colder months and move towards cooler waters during warmer months.

Reproduction also plays a role in Mako shark migration patterns. Female Makos have been observed to migrate to specific areas known as pupping grounds, where they give live birth to their young. These nursery areas provide suitable conditions for the survival and growth of their offspring. Male Makos, on the other hand, may migrate to find potential mates and ensure genetic diversity within the population.


Image from Pexels, photographed by Александра Аношко.

Overall, understanding the migration patterns of Mako sharks is crucial for their conservation and management. By studying these movements, scientists can identify important habitats, assess population health, and implement appropriate conservation measures to protect these magnificent creatures in their natural environment.


In conclusion, Mako sharks utilize various methods to communicate with one another. These include body language, vocalizations, and chemical signals. The unique physical characteristics of Mako sharks, such as their streamlined bodies and large pectoral fins, enable them to convey specific messages through their movements. Additionally, Mako sharks emit low-frequency sounds known as “barking” or “growling,” which may serve as a form of communication. Moreover, chemical signals in the form of pheromones play a crucial role in Mako shark communication, allowing them to convey important information, such as reproductive status or territorial boundaries. Overall, the communication mechanisms employed by Mako sharks facilitate interactions within their social structure, aiding in their survival and overall ecological dynamics within the marine ecosystem.

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