Classification / Names

Elasmobranchii (Sharks and rays) > Lamniformes (Mackerel sharks) > Alopiidae (Thresher sharks)


Size / Weight / Age

Max length: 760 cm (male) 549 cm (female)
Common length: 450 cm
Max published weight: 348.0 kg
Max reported age: 25 years
Length at first maturity: Lm 303.0, range 226 – 400 cm


Pelagic-oceanic; oceanodromous; marine; depth range 0 – 550 m, usually 0 – 200 m

Climate / Range

Subtropical; 16°C – 30°C; 32°N – 24°S, 40°E – 180°E


Shark gained favor with U.S. consumers in the late 1980s. Shark meat is white to pink in color and is marbled with red, somewhat like swordfish. It is tender, unless past its prime, and has a full, meaty taste.

Mako Shark

(Pacific: Isurus glaucus; Atlantic: I. oxyrinchus) is caught off both U.S. coasts in tropical and subtropical waters. Mako's are usually 5 to 8 feet in length, but can grow much larger. The Pacific member of the family is called bonito shark, because of its diet of bonito tuna. Makos can be easily distinguished from swordfish. The skin of swordfish is smooth, while that of a mako is rough like sandpaper. Swordfish meat is usually lighter, and there are distinctive whorls in the steaks. A shark, also has thicker connective tissue between the meat and skin.

Blacktip Shark

(Carcharhinus limbatus) has white meat with a ruby-red tinge around the edges. The shark grows to 8 feet in length.

Thresher Shark

(Alopias vulpinus) has meat that ranges in hue from white to tan and is similar to swordfish. A pink blood line runs around the edges.


Cosmopolitan in temperate and tropical seas. Western Atlantic: Newfoundland, Canada to Cuba, Gulf of Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil to Argentina. Eastern Atlantic: Norway and British Isles to the Mediterranean, Morocco, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire; also Cape Province, South Africa. Indo-Pacific: scattered localities from the Gulf of Aden and East Africa to the Hawaiian, Society and Fanning islands. Eastern Pacific: Canada to Chile.