Shark ID Puzzle – Great White or Mako Shark landed in Long Island

Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
03. July 2012

Did New York Anglers Mistakenly Kill a Protected Great White Shark ?

In early June, sportfishermen caught and killed what they believed to be a young mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) off the coast of the U.S. state of New York.

The boat returned to the marina, located in the vicinity of NYC on Long Island, to weigh the shark ( 138 lbs ) and to take the mandatory photo which is shown below.

But a closer look raises doubts about the correct identification of the shark. In my opinion, the specimen pictured here is more likely a juvenile great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias).

The fish in the photo shows the following species-distinctive features of a great white shark:

  • the head is more massive and the snout is shorter (less pointed) than in the mako shark (for comparison: photo)
  • black blotch in the axil of the pectoral fin (photo)
  • position and shape of the first dorsal fin (photo)

According to local recreational fishing regulations, the possession of this shark species is not allowed. The law says that a person may fish for white sharks with rod and reel, provided the person releases such fish immediately with a minimum of injury and that such fish may not be removed from the water.




  1. Ruei-Yun-Na Trujillo

    This is such a travesty!! Please leave these innocent creatures alone in their beautiful world of the ocean!! Man has no business whatsoever entreating upon their territory!! Sharks are being depleted by the millions!!!:(:( Great White Sharks are sadly highly endangered now with an estimated 800-2000 left in the ENTIRE WORLD!! Since their dorsal fins are like fingerprints, scientists have counted this estimated amount and these beautiful creatures SHOULD NOT BE FISHED WHATSOEVER FOR ANY PURPOSE!!!
    Sharks gestation periods and sexual maturity is similar to that of humans, therefore taking soooo much longer to reproduce and sadly they are killed before they can even reach maturity to procreate and bear young:(:( These atrocities must END NOW!! This is completely unfair and cruel! UNNECESSARY MALICE!!!! PLEASE HELP SAVE OUR SHARKS AND PRESERVE THEIR FUTURE!! THEY ARE DISAPPEARING BY THE MINUTE:(

  2. Oceane

    Yes, it’s not a mako, he have the superior lobe of caudal fin more taller than inferior lobe of caudal fin. But it’s difficult to see details of head in this picture…

  3. Denise

    This is most definately a juvenile white. The two are somewhat similar, but the distinct differences between the two are easily seen from this photo. This really is a shame that such a young animal was taken.

  4. Angel

    This looks like a juvenile GWS. It is a pitty.
    Actually even if it was a mako it was still a pitty.
    I hate that differenciation. If it is GWS, you have to realese it if not keep it, bring it to shore and take a trophy picture. Humanity needs to change. We are all part of a system and we are all the same. We need to learn to share this wonderful planet with everything in it. As they are… No matter what shape or type. We should stop killing.

  5. matt

    This is horrific…these fella’s shoud be paying a massive fine and a few years of community service..

  6. steve

    definitly a juvenile great white 🙁

  7. you can tell by the teeth great whites have triangler teeth makos do not just unexperianced fisherman and if it was a mako witch it was not they should of let it go to small,those are the jerks that give use a bad name hope they got fined…… jerck offs

  8. and to add to that i caught a great white out of moriches in moriches shark tournament in 86 and it was legal to harvest it i was 15 years old looking back we took first places but now that im older did i real win ? but dont get me wrong ill stick a good size mako ,but i only take one a year and thats if im bless to cauch one some years you go home empty handed ,but being with good friend is whats it about until tuna time all bets are off good fishing my friend and to them tree hugger go f- ck a tree

  9. This is absolutely not a mako. I’ve been in the water with enough makos to tell you that for sure. However, I cannot speak as to whether or not it’s a white shark. It certainly looks like one to me, but to say for sure would be stretch for me.

  10. john john

    i know sharks and this is a baby great white if you look, the tale is not long enough to be a Mako

  11. I. E. Foddis

    It’s surely a juvenile white shark as shown by the body shape, snout shape, eyes and dorsal fin position

  12. Slicer

    Defiantly a baby Great White. Education would have most likely prevented the mistake. I know that most fisherman including the ones pictured try to do the right thing but mistakes are made. I’m sure if they correctly identified the shark only pictures would of came to the dock. Educate don’t hate!! 

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