If you are considering an offshore chartered fishing adventure in Venice, LA this time of year, one of the most exciting big game catches you may see is the mako shark. Makos offer acrobatic flips, fast runs, and heavy fights that entertain anglers. One of the fastest species of shark, they travel at speeds up to 25 mph with bursts up to 46 mph. They can leap in the air up to 30 feet, and at times an angry mako has been known to jump into a boat after being hooked. This tough catch is one of the most popularly consumed shark species, prized for its meat, especially in the New England states where it is often found in grocery stores.
Fairly large in size, they have a cylindrical shape with a vertically elongated tail that assists its lifestyle. Their color is a brilliant metallic blue dorsally and white ventrally, although coloration varies as they age and range in size. Larger specimens tend to have a darker coloration that extends onto parts of the body that would be white on smaller mako sharks. Young makos have a clear blackish stain on the tip of the snout.
The average size of an adult mako is 10 feet in length and weighs between 132 to 298 pounds, females being the larger size. The largest mako caught on hook-and-line was an astonishing 1,300 pounds, caught off the coast of California in June 2013. The longest length caught on record was over 14 feet, caught in 1973 in France. A specimen caught off the coast of Italy in 1881 reportedly weighed 2,200 pounds and measured 13 feet in length.
Makos are a pelagic species that are typically found offshore, near the surface or at a range of depths up to 490 feet. They travel long distances to seek prey and feed mainly on cephalopods and bony fish including mackerels, tunas, bonitos, and swordfish. Occasionally, they feed on other sharks, porpoises, sea turtles, and seabirds. Makos swim below their prey, so they can see what is above and typically reach their prey before becoming noticed. On the attack, they tear off chunks of the preys’ flanks and fins. Makos consume 3% of their weight each day and take an average one and half to two days to digest a meal.
According to ISAF records, there have been 42 mako shark attacks on humans between 1980 and 2010, three of which were fatal, along with 20 boat attacks. While any shark attack seems concerning, this species will not generally attack humans and does not seem to treat them as prey. Typically, most mako shark attacks occur after being provoked or harassed, meaning extreme caution must be used when fishing for this exciting fish. The link below provides additional information and tips on how to handle mako sharks.