In 1809, Constantine Rafinesque first described shortfin mako shark and coined the name Isurus oxyrinchus (Isurus means "the same tail", oxyrinchus means "pointy snout"). "Mako" comes from the Māori language, meaning either the shark or a shark tooth. It may have originated in a dialectal variation as it is similar to the common words for shark in a number of Polynesian languages.
The shortfin mako, an apex predator, is a fairly large species of shark. An average adult specimen will measure around 3.2 m (10 ft) in length and weigh from 60–135 kg (130–300 lb). Females are larger than males.
The shortfin mako inhabits offshore temperate and tropical seas worldwide. The closely related longfin mako shark is found in the Gulf Stream or warmer offshore waters. It can be found from the surface down to depths of 150 m (490 ft), normally far from land though occasionally closer to shore, around islands or inlets.