Shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.Map Help



The shortfin mako Isurus oxyrinchus is thought to be the fastest species of shark reaching speeds of up to 80 kph. It can reach up to 400 cm in length and is a metallic blue colour with a white ventral surface. It is easily recognised by its streamlined and robust morphology and large dark eyes. It has a very strong caudal keel. The caudal fin itself is large and lunate. Mako sharks have five large conspicuous gill slits.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found throughtout UK and Irish coastal waters although rarely seen off south-east Britain.

Global distribution



The shortfin mako is an oceanic and coastal species, which can be found in surface waters down to a depth of over 700 m but can also venture into close inshore waters.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Large, robust, streamlined shark reaching up to 400 cm in length.
  • Lunate cordal fin and strong caudal keel.
  • Large dark eyes but smaller than Isurus paucus.
  • Snow white colouring around the mouth and under the snout.

Additional information

Shortfin makos, otherwise known as bonito sharks, are powerful and active sharks, known for leaping out of the water when in pursuit of prey or when hooked. The shortfin mako has a rapid growth in comparison to other pelagic sharks, and grows almost twice as fast as the porbeagle (Lamna nasus). It is also more slender than the porbeagle and lacks a second caudal keel (Compagno, 1984).


  1. Compagno, L.J.V., 1984. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4. Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Part 1 - Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsies, 125, 1-249

  2. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line], 2008-02-18

  3. Henderson, A.C., Quigley, D.T.G. & Flannery, K., 1999. The shortfin mako shark Isurus oxyrinchus Rafinesque, and the pelagic stingray Dasyatis violacea Bonaparte, in Irish waters. Irish Naturalists' Journal, 26, 260-266

  4. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]


  1. NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas. Available from:

  2. OBIS (Ocean Biodiversity Information System),  2024. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2024-06-12


This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Isurus oxyrinchus Shortfin mako. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 12-06-2024]. Available from:

Last Updated: 25/03/2008