Meet and Dive With California’s Mako Shark

shark diving at guadalupe island

Meet and Dive With California’s Mako Shark

There are two species of mako shark, the shortfin and the longfin.The shortfin is far more common, and there are few places in the world to spot them. One of the best mako shark diving locations being California and San Diego.

Biology of The Mako Shark Off California

The mako shark is classified as a mackerel shark, part of the same family as species such as the great white, porbeagle and salmon shark. There are two subspecies of mako shark, the shortfin and the longfin. They are almost identical, except that the incredibly rare longfin has slightly elongated pectoral fins. Longfin makos can reach 14 feet (4.5 m), while shortfin makos are slightly smaller. A fully mature female typically reaches 13 feet (4 m).

The shortfin mako is the fastest shark in the world, reaching speeds in bursts of up to 42 miles per hour (68 kph). Just like other species of mackerel sharks, the mako has a complex circulatory system. This effectively makes it warm-blooded, capable of reaching body temperatures 5-7 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding water. This biological adaptation allows these faster bursts of speed, and the ability to jump 20 feet (6 m) into the air.

Off the coast of California the mako is often shy, preferring hunting scenarios over chumming conditions. While species such as the blue shark are scavengers, the mako hunts live prey such as dolphins, tuna, billfish and seabirds.  For this reason, you’ll often see makos on the periphery of dives, lurking in the distance. If there is an especially large individual, it may approach to impose its size. Makos are found in warm to temperate waters around the world. Usually pelagic roaming, they are often extremely close to shore. The mako prefers waters that range from 62 to 73 F (17 to 23 degrees C). California based shark diving operations offer your best chance to dive with this awesome predator.


Situated in the Azorean archipelago, Pico Island is one of the world’s premiere places to spot the world’s largest makos. Between July and October, divers and snorkelers can observe blue and mako sharks congregating around sea-mounts that protrude from the mid-Atlantic ridge. While they’re often elusive, diving in the pristine waters of the Azores’ pristine waters in search of these apex predators is an unparalleled experience.


When you book a one day shark diving charter with SD Expeditions you’ll get the unique opportunity to view the sharks and their behavior from the boat and then enter the water for a safe, cageless, shark encounter. Blue sharks and mako sharks are not the killers once thought by seafarers the world over, in fact they are some of the more docile shark species, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. As you know, the ocean is full of a diversity of marine life – and we won’t limit any experience.  If you’re interested, they’ll gladly stop for common and bottlenose dolphins, sea lions and harbor seals, or the schooling mola mola (ocean sunfish) on our marine serengeti of the coast. Like America’s Shark Boat, the shark diving professionals at SD Expeditions want you to experience the ocean in all its glory, and they’ll hold nothing back.


Three hours from Cape Point, the waters of southern Africa turn from dark and cold to warm and blue. Here, where the currents converge, the pelagic species roam. Divers can see schooling yellowfin tuna, pelagic birds and up to 30 blue sharks together. There is a very high success rate when it comes to seeing makos on these trips as well from October to July.


In the emerald-green waters off the east coast of the United States, divers can do a cage dive with mako and blue sharks in season. The best months to spot makos are August and September. Once a prime area for sports fishing, many companies have realized the value of encountering makos alive.


For some non caged diving with Mako sharks can be a challenge. Since 2000 we have been taking shark divers and non shark divers to cage dive with great white sharks at Guadalupe Island. Book your all inclusive cage diving adventure today with departures from San Diego, Ca. Let’s go shark diving!