Carolina Hammerhead

The Carolina hammerhead is an inshore water-dwelling shark first recorded in 1967 by Dr. Carter Gilbert, who caught the first specimen off Charleston, South Carolina.

Dr. Gilbert, the Florida Museum of Natural History curator between 1961 and 1998, made the discovery quite unknowingly, initially believing his catch to be a scalloped hammerhead. It was not until Joe Quattro’s discovery in 2013 that the shark in question was identified as a separate species.

Carolina Hammerhead Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Carcharhiniformes
Family Sphyrnidae
Genus Sphyrna
Scientific Name Sphyrna gilberti


Adult Carolina hammerhead sharks have a body length of 9.8-13.1 feet.They have a grayish-brown coloration on their dorsal body surface which fades to white ventrally.

Their head consists of narrow blade-like extensions, roughly 25% of their total body length. There is the presence of notches at the end of each ‘hammer,’ which bears the eyes of the shark. These sharks have sharp blade-like front and back teeth, obliquely shaped upper teeth, and straight lower teeth.They even have five paris of gill slits.

The first dorsal fin is large and erect, and its free back tip does not reach up to the pelvic fin origins. The rear free tip of the long second dorsal fin reaches the caudal fin. The anal fin base is considerably longer than the base of the second dorsal fin. Pelvic fins have a straight edge on their rear.

A pit is present below the tail base and a crescent-shaped transverse pit above the tail base. These sharks have a robust asymmetrical-looking tail fin.

Where do they live

These sharks inhabit the coastal waters of Brazil and southeastern U.S. areas like Bulls Bay, South Carolina.

They inhabit waters from the surface up to 164 feet deep.



The general diet of the Carolina hammerheads consists of bony fishes and cephalopods such as squids, octopuses, and cuttlefishes. They also feed on shrimps, lobsters, crabs, and other smaller sharks and rays.


These sharks are viviparous, i.e., they give birth to live young. On the shores of South Carolina, these sharks have been known to give birth in estuaries.

In the 2013 expedition by Quattro, which led to the proper discovery of this shark, some juveniles measuring 15.7-19.6 inches were captured.


The eyes located at the edge of the blade-like heads of the hammerhead sharks provide them with a broader and more excellent visual range than other sharks.

Interactions with humans

These sharks are harmless to humans, with no reported accidents to date. There has been a sharp decline (up to 90%) in their numbers in the past few decades.

Although these statistics are not a good indicator of a stable population, their rare sightings and lack of information have led to the IUCN listing them as a Data Deficient.

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