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mako (mäˈkō) [key], heavy-bodied, fast-swimming shark, genus Isurus, highly prized as a game fish. Also known as the sharp-nosed mackerel shark, it is a member of the mackerel shark family, which also includes the white shark and the porbeagle. The mako is deep blue above and white below, with a conical head and sharply pointed snout. It may reach a length of 12 ft (3.7 m) and weigh 1,000 lb (450 kg). Extremely active, makos have been known to attack boats and are probably dangerous to swimmers, although they have no particular reputation as maneaters; they put up a ferocious fight when hooked, leaping out of the water. The mako feeds on large fishes, including swordfishes, and usually swallows its prey whole. There are two species, Isurus oxyrinchus, of the Atlantic, also known as the shortfin mako, and I. paucus, of the Pacific and Indian oceans, also known as the longfin mako. The porbeagles, or common mackerel sharks, genus Lamna, are similar to the makos, but smaller. One species, Lamna nasus, is found in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean; another, L. ditropus occurs along the eastern coast of the Pacific. They are regarded as pests by fishermen, because they tear fishnets to feed on the catch. Makos and other mackerel sharks are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Chondrichthyes, order Selachii, family Isuridae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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