American Oceans

What’s the Difference Between a Mako Shark and a Tiger Shark?

Mako sharks and tiger sharks are two of the most fascinating and notorious shark species in the world.

a close up of a mako shark in the ocean

These two predators share many similarities, but they also have some distinct differences that set them apart.

Understanding the characteristics and behavior of each species is important for anyone interested in marine biology or shark research.

Despite their many differences, both species are apex predators and play a critical role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems.

Read on below to learn more!

Mako Shark Vs Tiger Shark

a tiger shark and a diver interacting underwater

Mako sharks and tiger sharks are both apex predators found in the oceans around the world. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences that set them apart from each other.

Physical Characteristics

Mako sharks are known for their slender, streamlined bodies and pointed snouts. They can grow up to 12 feet in length and weigh up to 1,000 pounds.

In contrast, tiger sharks have a more robust build with a blunt snout and distinctive striped pattern. They can reach lengths of up to 18 feet and weigh over 2,000 pounds.

Habitat and Distribution

Mako sharks are found in temperate and tropical waters around the world, including the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. They typically prefer deeper waters but can also be found near the surface.

Tiger sharks, on the other hand, are found in warm, coastal waters around the world. They are often found near coral reefs, estuaries, and river mouths.

Feeding Habits

Both mako and tiger sharks are opportunistic feeders and will eat a variety of prey, including fish, squid, and other sharks.

However, tiger sharks are known for their more diverse diet, which can include sea turtles, dolphins, and even garbage.

Threats and Conservation

Both mako and tiger sharks are considered vulnerable or endangered due to overfishing and habitat loss.

Mako sharks are often targeted for their meat and fins, while tiger sharks are also caught for their meat and as bycatch in fisheries targeting other species.

Mako Shark Physical Characteristics

short fin mako shark swimming

Mako sharks are known for their impressive speed and sleek physique. They have a long, pointed snout and a streamlined body that allows them to swim at incredible speeds.

The average length of a mako shark is around 10 feet, but they can grow up to 14 feet in length. They typically weigh around 1,000 pounds, but larger specimens can weigh up to 1,300 pounds.

Mako sharks have a distinctive gray coloration on their back and a white underbelly. Their skin is smooth and lacks any markings. They have large, pointed pectoral fins that help them maneuver through the water with ease.

Tiger Shark Physical Characteristics

tiger shark

Tiger sharks are known for their unique markings and powerful jaws. They have a broad, flat head and a stout body.

The average length of a tiger shark is around 10 to 14 feet, but they can grow up to 18 feet in length. They typically weigh around 850 pounds, but larger specimens can weigh up to 1,400 pounds.

Tiger sharks have a distinctive gray coloration on their back and a white underbelly. They have dark stripes or spots on their skin, which gives them their name.

Their skin is rough and covered in tiny scales called dermal denticles. They have large, pointed pectoral fins that help them maneuver through the water with ease.

Both mako sharks and tiger sharks have sharp, serrated teeth that are designed for cutting through flesh. Mako sharks have thinner teeth that are more pointed, while tiger sharks have thicker teeth that are more blunt.

Habitats and Distribution

a shortfin mako shark underwater

Mako sharks and tiger sharks have different habitats and distributions, which are influenced by a variety of factors such as water temperature, food availability, and predation risk.

Mako sharks are found in temperate and tropical waters worldwide, ranging from the surface to depths of up to 500 meters. They are primarily an open ocean species, but can also be found in coastal waters and around reefs.

Mako sharks are highly migratory and have been known to travel long distances, including across entire ocean basins. They are commonly found in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as in the waters off Australia and South Africa.

Tiger sharks, on the other hand, have a wider distribution and can be found in both coastal and offshore waters worldwide. They are commonly found in tropical and subtropical waters, but can also be found in temperate waters.

Tiger sharks are known to inhabit a variety of habitats, including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and estuaries. They are also known to venture into freshwater habitats, such as rivers and lakes.

In terms of their preferred habitats, tiger sharks tend to be more opportunistic feeders and can be found in a wider variety of habitats than mako sharks. However, both species are apex predators and play important roles in their respective ecosystems.

Diet and Hunting Behavior

a tiger shark with its mouth open

Mako sharks and tiger sharks have different diets and hunting behaviors. Mako sharks are known to feed on a variety of prey, including tuna, herring, mackerel, swordfish, and other pelagic fish.

They are also known to prey on seals, sea lions, and other marine mammals, as well as sea birds and turtles.

Tiger sharks, on the other hand, have a more varied diet, which includes a wider range of prey items.

They are known to feed on a variety of marine animals, including fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and cephalopods. They are also known to prey on marine mammals, such as seals and sea lions, as well as sea turtles and dolphins.

Both mako sharks and tiger sharks are apex predators in their respective food chains. They are both capable of delivering powerful bites and attacks, using their sharp teeth to tear through their prey.

Mako sharks are known for their incredible speed and agility, which they use to chase down their prey. Tiger sharks, on the other hand, are known for their stealth and patience, waiting for the right moment to strike.

Speed and Agility

a shortfin mako swimming in the ocean

Mako sharks and tiger sharks are both known for their impressive speed and agility in the water. However, when it comes to speed, the mako shark takes the crown as the fastest shark in the ocean.

According to a research study, the shortfin mako shark can swim at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, making it one of the fastest fish in the ocean. On the other hand, tiger sharks are known to swim at an average speed of 20-30 miles per hour.

While both sharks are powerful swimmers, the mako shark’s slender body and crescent-shaped tail give it an advantage in terms of agility.

This allows the mako shark to make quick and sudden turns, making it easier for them to catch their prey. Tiger sharks, on the other hand, have a more robust body shape, which makes them better suited for hunting larger prey.

In terms of jumping ability, both sharks are capable of leaping out of the water, but the mako shark is known to be a more acrobatic jumper. They have been observed to jump up to 20 feet in the air while hunting their prey, which is a remarkable feat for a fish.

Interaction with Humans

two tiger sharks swimming undnerwater in the sea

Mako and tiger sharks are known to interact with humans, but the nature of these interactions can vary. Both species have been involved in attacks on humans, although these incidents are relatively rare.

According to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 42 unprovoked attacks by tiger sharks and 42 by mako sharks on humans worldwide between 1580 and 2019.

Mako sharks are often encountered by fishermen and recreational anglers, and they are sometimes caught unintentionally as bycatch in commercial fishing operations.

The species is also known to follow boats, and there have been reports of mako sharks jumping into boats or attacking fishing gear. However, mako sharks are generally not considered to be a significant threat to humans.

Tiger sharks, on the other hand, have a reputation for being more aggressive towards humans. They are known to attack surfers and swimmers, and they have been implicated in a number of fatal shark attacks.

Tiger sharks are also attracted to boats and can be caught as bycatch in commercial fishing operations. In some areas, tiger sharks have been known to scavenge around fishing boats, which can lead to dangerous encounters with humans.

In general, interactions between humans and sharks are relatively rare, and most encounters do not result in an attack.

However, it is important for people to be aware of the potential risks associated with swimming or surfing in areas where sharks are known to be present. It is also important for fishermen and other ocean users to take precautions to avoid attracting sharks and to handle any encounters with these animals in a safe and responsible manner.

Shark Species Comparison

a mako shark showing its teeth

Mako sharks and tiger sharks are two of the most well-known shark species in the world. While they share some similarities, they also have several differences that set them apart from each other.

Physical Characteristics

Mako sharks are known for their streamlined bodies and long, pointed snouts. They are typically smaller than tiger sharks, with an average length of 10 feet. In contrast, tiger sharks have a more robust body shape and a distinctive striped pattern on their skin.

They can grow up to 18 feet in length, making them one of the largest shark species in the world.

Habitat and Distribution

Both mako and tiger sharks are found in warm waters around the world. Mako sharks are typically found in open ocean environments, while tiger sharks prefer shallow coastal waters.

They are both apex predators and can be found in the same ecosystems as other dangerous sharks such as white sharks, bull sharks, and hammerhead sharks.

Feeding Habits

Mako sharks and tiger sharks have different feeding habits. Mako sharks are known for their speed and agility, which they use to catch fast-moving prey such as tuna and swordfish.

Tiger sharks, on the other hand, have a more varied diet and are known to eat a wide range of prey, including fish, turtles, marine mammals, and even garbage.

Behavior and Threat to Humans

Mako sharks and tiger sharks have different temperaments when it comes to interacting with humans. Mako sharks are generally shy and avoid contact with humans whenever possible.

Tiger sharks, on the other hand, have been known to attack humans on occasion, making them one of the more dangerous shark species.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the #1 deadliest shark?

The great white shark is often considered the deadliest shark due to its size, speed, and power. However, it is important to note that shark attacks on humans are rare and most sharks do not pose a threat to humans.

How many sharks are dangerous to humans?

Out of the over 500 species of sharks, only about a dozen are considered potentially dangerous to humans. Even among these species, the vast majority of interactions between sharks and humans are non-threatening.

What is the 3 fastest shark?

The shortfin mako shark is the fastest shark, capable of swimming up to 60 miles per hour. The common thresher shark and the black marlin are also among the fastest sharks, capable of swimming up to 20 miles per hour.

Are mako sharks more aggressive?

Mako sharks are known for their speed and agility, but they are not typically considered more aggressive than other shark species. Like all sharks, they may become aggressive if they feel threatened or provoked.

Lemon shark vs Tiger shark

Lemon sharks and tiger sharks are both large, powerful sharks found in warm waters around the world. While both species have been known to attack humans, tiger sharks are generally considered more dangerous due to their size and aggressive behavior.

Which sharks are the most aggressive?

While all sharks have the potential to be dangerous, some species are more likely to attack humans than others. Bull sharks, tiger sharks, and great white sharks are among the most aggressive shark species and are responsible for the majority of shark attacks on humans.

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