The Hammerhead Shark is one of the most unique looking sharks that swim the world’s great ocean depths. Hammerheads are from the Sphymidae family, and there are nine known different hammerhead species. These species include the Great Hammerhead, the Smooth Hammerhead, Scalloped Hammerhead, Whitefin Hammerhead, Smalleye Hammerhead, Bonnethead, Scalloped Bonnethead, Scoophead, and the Winghead.
Are Hammerhead Sharks Endangered?
Out of these nine species of Hammerhead Sharks, only about three of them are seen as a danger to people. The other six species are virtually harmless to humans. The three species that are most dangerous to humans are the Great Hammerhead, the Smooth Hammerhead, and the Scalloped Hammerhead. These three are also listed on the World Conservation Union’s Red list of endangered species.
Currently, it is estimated that the Hammerhead Shark population among different species has decreased by about 80% from previous years. Their water has been polluted from construction projects on land and all the debris and waste that makes its way into the water and illegal fishing practices.
The Scalloped Hammerhead was the first Hammerhead Species to be put on the endangered species list in 2014, and this is the species most commonly sought after using illegal fishing practices. They are hunted for their fins, as well as their meat. These sharks like to travel in schools, so they are at a higher risk of capture. Large amounts can be targeted and captured at one time.
Hammerhead sharks can live between twenty-five and thirty-five years old. Scientists believe that they are beginning to live even longer lives than previously, but are unsure as to why this could be possible.
What do Hammerhead Sharks Look Like?
Hammerhead Sharks were named for their distinct hammer-shaped heads. Their scientific name is Syphrna, which is Greek. It translates into “hammer” in English. Their heads are flattened into this hammer shape that is called a cephalofoil. Their eyes are set a good distance apart, but this allows them to see at greater ranges than other types of sharks. Due to the odd placement of their eyes, they can have a 360-degree view and can see in all directions around them, except directly in front of them. Being able to see in wider directions allows them to see danger before it’s too late and helps them locate food.
Their bodies are gray in color with a white underbelly. They can sometimes appear to have a greenish tint to their skin as well. Hammerhead Sharks have sensory organs located in their head that allows them to feel vibrations and movement around them so they can sense food or danger without actually being able to see it yet.
Hammerheads also have an excellent sense of smell which also aids them in locating their food in darker waters. Hammerheads have been known to become cannibalistic when their food supply begins running low, and they will eat each other if they have no other options available to them. They have also been known to eat their own young when faced with no other food choices.
Their heads are broad and thick, and they have a large dorsal fin with a pointy tip. Mature Hammerhead Sharks can grow to be up to 20 feet long(6 meters) and could weigh anywhere from five hundred pounds(227 kg) to one thousand pounds (453 kg). Their gray or greenish color and white underbelly makes camouflaging in the water to hide from danger easier.
Where do Hammerheads Live?
Most Hammerheads have been found to live in warmer subtropic and tropical water that can be found along coastlines and continental shelves around the world. They tend to migrate to cooler waters during the hot summer months. Hammerhead sharks have also been seen among coral reefs, lagoons, and other surrounding deep water.
The female Hammerhead Sharks have live births. They can have as many as twenty to forty pups at one time. Instead of coddling them, like most new mothers would, the female will immediately separate themselves from their young so that they may fend for themselves.
The Hammerhead Sharks do not have many enemies, so the majority of the young population end up surviving.
What do Hammerhead Sharks Eat?
The Hammerhead Sharks are found mostly living on the bottom of the ocean. They have been found to eat small fish, crab, squid, lobsters, stingrays, and even small sharks.
They use their large heads to locate their prey and then pin them down and eat them when they are in a weakened and shocked state. The Hammerhead’s favorite food of choice would most definitely be the stingray.
More Fun Hammerhead Shark Facts
- They have very sharp and triangular shaped teeth
- Their mouth is located on the underside of their head
- They have a blind spot directly in front of them
- They can swim at 25 mph
- Very agile and can make sudden and sharp turns
- They can get a nice tan from swimming in shallow water for an extended amount of time
- They are not very aggressive animals, and there are very few reported attacks on humans
How Can We Protect this Endangered Species?
As a society, we need to join efforts to help an endangered species that plays a vital role in marine ecology. To do this, become aware of the products you are purchasing at your store. Shark is often purposely mislabeled to hide what it truly is, or it is labeled as something similar to a shark.
Do not support businesses that you know are participating in illegal shark trade. Report anything you find suspicious or unlawful immediately.
Finally, educate yourself about the potential dangers these animals are facing and make efforts in your local community to educate others as well.