MAKO MATTERS

Mako sharks have fascinated divers and shark fans for many years. But having recently been listed as endangered, will we still be able to dive with them in years to come? 

And more importantly, what will happen if we lost these vital apex predators for good?

Are mako sharks endangered?

The Shark Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently announced that both the Shortfin and Longfin Mako shark are now classified as Endangered.

Previously listed as Vulnerable, they have been downgraded to Endangered and are now officially at risk of going extinct.

Mako shark diving off Cape Point, South Africa.

Does it matter if mako sharks go extinct?

As an apex predator, a predator sitting at the top of oceanic food webs, mako sharks play a vital role in sustaining the health and functioning of ocean ecosystems.

They are one of the most efficient hunters of all shark species and eat mostly bony fish such as tuna, mackerel, swordfish, plus cephalopods, other sharks, porpoises, sea turtles and sea birds. 

They control the populations of those species they feed on – ensuring ocean food webs remain in balance and no single population gets out of control. 

Apex predators also feed on vulnerable prey, such as old, injured and sick animals; which leaves more food for the healthy prey animals to survive on. 

Makos are incredibly fast; turning on a dime when you dive with them!

What happens when you remove apex predators, such as makos, from the ocean?

Prey populations explode in numbers when you remove apex predators such as mako sharks. 

As those prey populations increase unchecked, the prey animals they feed upon then decrease and eventually collapse. 

What happens then? The prey populations that boomed in the first place have nothing to feed on and also eventually collapse. 

In short, oceanic food webs collapse and ocean biodiversity is lost. 

Apex predators prevent that cycle from occurring by keeping prey numbers balanced and under control at all times.

They improve the health of ocean ecosystems and ensure marine biodiversity is sustained for all.

shark diving
Where you find mako sharks, you’ll often find blue sharks. Image copyright: kathryncurzon.com

Is it too late to save mako sharks?

If we act now, it is not too late to save mako sharks.

The latest news on mako shark conservation is cause for hope:

  • The EU is facing pressure to announce catch quotas for mako sharks in its waters.
  • Numerous sharks and rays, including makos, are being proposed for listing at the next meeting of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in late May 2019.

You can do your part to protect mako sharks and other sharks from extinction by ensuring you don’t purchase products made from sharks. 

You can also use sustainable seafood guides online to ensure the fish you eat doesn’t have bycatch (which commonly includes sharks and marine mammals).

Where can you dive with mako sharks?

You can find a variety of mako shark diving destinations in my latest article for Paralenz.com:

Mako sharks are racing towards extinction: why does it matter?

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2019-11-04T01:12:55+00:00