American Oceans

Longfin Mako Shark

The Longfin Mako Shark is a large, predatory shark that inhabits the world’s oceans. It is one of two species of Mako Shark, the other being the more common Shortfin Mako. The Longfin Mako Shark is closely related to the Great White Shark and is known for its distinctive long, broad pectoral fins.

The biology and description of the Longfin Mako Shark are not well understood, as it is often mistaken for the Shortfin Mako. Growing up to 14 feet in length, the Longfin Mako Shark is a pelagic species found in moderately deep water, having been reported to a depth of 220 m (720 ft). Its slimmer build and long, broad pectoral fins suggest that it is a slower and less active swimmer than the Shortfin Mako. The species is considered highly migratory, but very little is known about its behavior and adaptations.

Appearance and Biology

The Longfin Mako Shark (Isurus paucus) is a large, predatory shark that inhabits deep and tropical waters worldwide. This species is considered highly migratory, and its biology is still not well understood due to its elusive nature. In this section, we will discuss the appearance and biology of the Longfin Mako Shark, including its coloration, size, body temperature, and eyes.

Coloration

The Longfin Mako Shark has a distinctive coloration, with a blue-gray to deep blue dorsal side and a white ventral side. Its body is streamlined and slender, with a pointed snout and crescent-shaped tail. The characteristic long fins of this mako shark give it its name, referring to the two pectoral fins larger than the shark’s head and the first dorsal fin, which is large and rounded.

Size

The Longfin Mako Shark is one of the largest members of the Mackerel Shark family, capable of achieving lengths of up to 14 feet (4.3 m) and weights exceeding 500 kg (1100 lbs). The slimmer build and long, broad pectoral fins of this shark suggest that it is a slower and less active swimmer than the Shortfin Mako.

Body Temperature

The Longfin Mako Shark is an endothermic shark, meaning that it can regulate its body temperature internally. This ability allows it to maintain a higher body temperature than the surrounding water, which helps it to swim faster and more efficiently in colder waters.

Eyes

The Longfin Mako Shark has large eyes that are adapted to low light conditions, allowing it to see in deep waters where sunlight does not penetrate. Its eyes are also equipped with a specialized structure called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the retina and enhances its vision in low light conditions.

Habitat and Distribution

The Longfin Mako Shark is a highly migratory species that inhabits deep and tropical waters around the world. In this section, we will discuss the geographical distribution, depth and temperature, habitat, and migratory patterns of the Longfin Mako Shark.

Geographical Distribution

The Longfin Mako Shark has a worldwide distribution in temperate and tropical waters. It is commonly found in the western Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. While it is considered a rare species, it is often caught as bycatch in commercial fishing operations.

Depth and Temperature

Longfin Mako Sharks are typically found in moderately deep water, ranging from the surface to depths of up to 500 meters. They prefer water temperatures between 16 and 22 degrees Celsius, but can tolerate a wide range of temperatures.

Habitat

Longfin Mako Sharks are pelagic species that inhabit open ocean environments. They are often found in areas with strong ocean currents, and they are known to follow the movements of their prey, which can include other fish, squid, and even smaller sharks.

Migratory Patterns

Longfin Mako Sharks are highly migratory, and they are known to travel long distances in search of food and suitable breeding grounds. They are capable of crossing entire ocean basins, and they have been recorded in waters as far north as Norway and as far south as New Zealand.

Behavior and Diet

The Longfin Mako Shark is a highly migratory and predatory shark that uses its excellent vision and fast movements to outpace and devour prey. Its behavior and diet are closely related to its hunting style and habitat.

Hunting and Prey

As a mako shark, the Longfin Mako Shark is a fast and agile predator that hunts actively. It uses its speed and agility to outpace and catch fast-swimming prey like tuna and swordfish. Additionally, the Longfin Mako Shark has a highly developed sense of smell that helps it locate prey from a distance.

The Longfin Mako Shark’s diet mainly consists of bony fish and squid. However, there is some speculation that it may also feed on swordfish, similar to the shortfin mako. The Longfin Mako Shark is known to hunt alone, but it can also be found in small groups.

Schooling Fish and Cephalopods

The Longfin Mako Shark is known to feed on schooling fish, such as mackerel and herring. These fish species often form large schools, making them an easy target for the Longfin Mako Shark. Additionally, the Longfin Mako Shark is known to feed on cephalopods, such as squid.

Predators

The Longfin Mako Shark is a top predator in its ecosystem and is not typically preyed upon by other animals. However, it can fall victim to larger sharks, such as the Great White Shark. The Longfin Mako Shark is also sometimes caught accidentally by commercial fishing operations, which can have a negative impact on its population.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Longfin mako sharks reproduce through aplacental viviparity, meaning that the embryos develop inside the uterus of the female shark without a placenta. Instead of receiving nutrients and oxygen through a placenta like mammals do, Longfin Mako shark embryos receive nourishment from yolk sacs.

Gestation Period and Litter Size

The gestation period for longfin mako sharks is not well known, but it is estimated to be around 15 to 18 months. The litter size of longfin mako sharks is typically two pups at a time, one inside each uterus. However, a 3.3-meter-long female pregnant with eight well-developed embryos was caught in the Mona Passage near Puerto Rico in January 1983.

Embryos and Pups

Longfin mako shark embryos develop inside the uterus of the female shark and receive nourishment from yolk sacs. The pups are born live and are fully developed at birth. The newborn sharks measure around 3 to 4 feet in length and weigh around 20 to 30 pounds.

Lifespan

The lifespan of longfin mako sharks is not well known. However, it is estimated to be around 20 to 30 years. Longfin mako sharks reach sexual maturity at around 8 to 10 years of age.

Threats and Conservation

Human Interaction

Longfin mako sharks face a number of threats from human activities. One of the biggest threats is overfishing, especially in longline fisheries. These fisheries target a variety of species, but longfin mako sharks are often caught as bycatch. These sharks are also prized by commercial and recreational fishermen for their meat and fins. The global shark fin trade is a major driver of this demand.

Bycatch

Longfin mako sharks are often caught as bycatch in commercial and recreational fishing operations. Bycatch is the unintentional capture of non-target species, and it is a major threat to many shark species. Longfin mako sharks are particularly vulnerable to bycatch because they are often found in the same areas as other commercially valuable fish, such as tuna and swordfish.

Endangered Status

Longfin mako sharks are currently listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This means that they are at high risk of extinction in the wild. The main threats to longfin mako sharks are overfishing and bycatch. Over the last 75 years, shortfin mako sharks, a closely related species, have declined in population worldwide by 50-79%. This decline is enough to warrant their listing as Endangered according to the IUCN.

To help protect longfin mako sharks, fishing regulations have been put in place in many countries. For example, the United States has implemented size and bag limits for recreational fishermen, and longline fisheries are required to use circle hooks, which reduce the number of sharks caught as bycatch. However, more needs to be done to protect these sharks and ensure their survival in the wild.

Similar Species

The Longfin Mako Shark is often confused with several other shark species due to their similar physical characteristics. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common species that are often mistaken for the Longfin Mako Shark.

Shortfin Mako Shark

The Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) is the most commonly confused species with the Longfin Mako Shark. Both species are members of the Lamnidae family and have similar physical characteristics, such as a streamlined body and sharp teeth. However, the Shortfin Mako Shark has a shorter pectoral fin and a more pointed snout than the Longfin Mako Shark.

Blue Shark

The Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) is another species that is often mistaken for the Longfin Mako Shark. Both species have a similar body shape and coloration, but the Blue Shark has a more slender body and a longer, more pointed snout than the Longfin Mako Shark. Additionally, the Blue Shark is not as large as the Longfin Mako Shark, with an average length of around 7.5 feet.

Great White Shark

The Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is a larger and more well-known species than the Longfin Mako Shark. While they are not as similar in physical appearance as the Shortfin Mako Shark and Blue Shark, the Great White Shark is often mistaken for the Longfin Mako Shark due to their shared reputation as apex predators. However, the Great White Shark has a more robust body and a more pointed snout than the Longfin Mako Shark.

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