Discover fascinating details, captivating imagery, and captivating footage showcasing the incredible hammerhead shark. Delve into comprehensive insights about this magnificent and endangered creature, a remarkable and unmistakable predator dwelling in the vast oceanic realm.
Great Hammerhead Shark Facts At A Glance
Also known as the mighty hammerhead or the squat-headed hammerhead shark, the remarkable creature with the scientific name Sphyrna mokarran belongs to the fish kingdom. It is a member of the Sphyrnidae family. These majestic sharks can be found in tropical waters across the globe. On average, they measure around 3.5 meters (11 feet) in length and weigh approximately 230 kilograms (510 pounds). What sets them apart is their distinctive head, which accounts for about 23 to 27% of their body length. Sadly, the great hammerhead shark is currently classified as an endangered species. On a fascinating note, these sharks have the ability to conserve energy by swimming on their side.
Meet The Great Hammerhead Shark: Introduction
The mighty hammerhead shark stands as the largest among the ten known hammerhead shark species. These awe-inspiring creatures belong to the Sphyrnidae family and captivate onlookers with their unmistakable heads shaped like hammers.
When compared to other hammerhead sharks, the great hammerhead stands out with its almost straight frontal shape and a tall dorsal fin that curves like a sickle. Its skin is gray-brown, transitioning to a white shade on the underside, and is adorned with small tooth-like bumps known as dermal denticles.
The largest known great hammerhead shark reached a length of 6.1 meters (20 feet), while the heaviest recorded individual weighed 580 kilograms (1,279 pounds). On average, a great hammerhead shark measures around 3.5 meters (11 feet) in length and weighs approximately 230 kilograms (510 pounds).
These impressive creatures have a lifespan ranging from 20 to 30 years.
Great Hammerhead Shark Video
Witness breathtaking footage of the magnificent and awe-inspiring great hammerhead shark in this captivating and educational video.
Where Is The Great Hammerhead Shark Found?
The magnificent hammerhead shark possesses an extensive geographical distribution, encompassing tropical and warm temperate waters spanning from 40°N to 37°S latitudes across the globe. This remarkable creature tends to frequent coastal regions, gravitating towards areas such as coral reefs, islands, lagoons, and the deep waters close to land.
While the great hammerhead shark typically swims near the water’s surface, it has been observed at depths reaching an impressive 80 meters (262 feet). Notably, during the summer season, this species embarks on extensive migrations, heading either northward or southward towards the Earth’s poles.
Is The Great Hammerhead Shark Dangerous?
While the great hammerhead shark generally doesn’t show direct aggression towards humans, it does possess the potential to be dangerous. With its impressive size and razor-sharp, serrated teeth, encounters with these sharks can result in severe harm, emphasizing the need for caution.
When feeling threatened, the great hammerhead shark may exhibit an aggressive behavior, characterized by erratic swimming movements and lowering of its pectoral fins (the fins located on each side of its body).
Great Hammerhead Shark Predators
Besides humans, the great hammerhead shark faces its only genuine adversary in the form of the killer whale, scientifically known as Orcinus orca.
Young great hammerhead sharks, known as pups, occasionally fall prey to larger sharks like the bull shark, scientifically identified as Carcarhinus leucas.
What Do Great Hammerhead Sharks Eat?
The majestic hammerhead shark is a lone predator that embarks on hunting expeditions during the early morning and twilight hours. It skillfully tracks down its prey, which can be found either near the water’s surface or resting on the ocean floor.
When it comes to food, the great hammerhead shark has a diverse palate. It dines on a variety of creatures, ranging from bony fish and smaller shark species to squid and crabs. Interestingly, it shows a particular fondness for stingrays, seemingly unfazed by their venomous spines. In fact, there have been instances where a single hammerhead shark was discovered with an astounding 96 spines attached to its mouth.
Furthermore, the great hammerhead shark has been observed engaging in cannibalistic behavior, feasting on individuals of its own species.
Why Has A Hammerhead Shark Got A Hammer-Shaped Head?
The remarkable head shape, known as a ‘cephalofoil,’ stands out as the defining characteristic of the magnificent great hammerhead shark, contributing significantly to its prowess as a predator.
The unique arrangement of eyes positioned at opposite ends of the wide head grants the shark a complete 360-degree view of its surroundings. Additionally, the broad snout is equipped with sensory organs known as ampullae of Lorenzini, which can detect the electrical currents emitted by prey animals. This enables the shark to precisely locate their whereabouts, even when the prey is hidden beneath the sand.
While all sharks possess these electroreceptive organs, the hammerhead shark’s cephalofoil allows for a wider distribution of these organs, thereby enhancing their efficiency.
Moreover, the shape of the head enhances the shark’s agility, facilitating swift changes in direction for effective prey targeting.
Although the great hammerhead shark often hunts in open water, its mouth situated beneath the T-shaped head is particularly well-suited for capturing prey on the seabed.
When the shark discovers a stingray, it immobilizes the prey using its distinctive ‘hammer’ and proceeds to consume the vulnerable fish through large bites.
Great Hammerhead Shark Facts: Breeding
The great hammerhead shark has a gestation period of 11 months, which is the time it takes for the young to develop inside the female’s body. Unlike many other sharks, the great hammerhead’s eggs hatch internally, and the newborn sharks emerge fully formed. The female shark gives birth to a litter only once every two years, and each litter can consist of 6 to 55 pups.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the young are born between December and January in the waters around Australia. In the Northern Hemisphere, the great hammerhead sharks give birth from late spring to summer.
When they are newly born, the young sharks measure around 50 to 70 cm in length. Their heads, known as cephalofoils, are more rounded and softer compared to those of adult sharks. Over time, as the pups grow, their cephalofoils become harder and more similar to those of the adults.
Is The Great Hammerhead Shark Endangered?
The majestic hammerhead shark holds the unfortunate distinction of being labeled as ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN, with its numbers on a steady decline. The primary cause behind this alarming trend can be attributed to the actions of humanity.
Fishing activities predominantly focus on the great hammerhead shark for its prized fins, which are highly sought after in Asia for shark fin soup. The consumption of its flesh is rare, while other parts of the shark, such as its liver for vitamins, skin for leather, and carcass for fishmeal, are utilized. The great hammerhead shark is also a target for sport fishermen.
Unfortunately, the great hammerhead shark often falls victim to bycatch, which occurs when it is unintentionally caught while fishing for other species. The survival rate for these sharks is alarmingly low once they are caught in this unintended manner.
Due to their reproductive cycle of giving birth every two years, the great hammerhead shark is especially vulnerable to overexploitation. The species faces a disproportionate decline in population as a result of slow reproductive rates, making it challenging to replenish the numbers lost due to hunting.
The combination of high mortality rates upon capture and the significant value placed on their fins further diminishes the prospects for the great hammerhead shark.