Hammerhead Sharks Facts

One of the many predatory cartilaginous fishes that make up the order Selachii are sharks (class chondrichthyes). The Great Hammerhead (sphyrna mokarran), which may be found offshore and close to shorelines in temperate and tropical regions worldwide, is sometimes spotted in huge groups during summer migrations in search of cooler water.

The moniker “Great Hammerhead” refers to the form of the fish’s head. The Atlantic Ocean’s continental shelf and island terraces are home to Great Hammerheads.

The massive pectoral fins of Great Hammerheads are essential for swimming. Here are some fascinating facts about great hammerhead sharks. If you’re interested, you might also like to read these information about Caribbean reef sharks and great white sharks.

What Does a Hammerhead Shark Look Like?

Hammerhead sharks resemble other common sharks in appearance, with the exception of one distinct trait. Their heads have a cephalofoil, which is a flattened hammer-like form.

The majority of hammerhead sharks have gray or olive green tops and striped or white bellies to blend in with any approaching predators from below.

Hammerhead sharks have smaller jaws than other shark species of comparable size in relation to their body size.

Why The Strange Head?

The Hammerhead shark preys on sting rays, which also happen to be its preferred food, as was already noted. Hammerhead sharks must be able to quickly take down sting rays since they are entirely flat and may easily blend in with the water floor. This is when their head form becomes important.

Hammerhead sharks are no exception to the rule that a shark’s skin is covered in a structure resembling teeth called dermal denticles.

The coolest Hammerhead shark information we’ll cover is that they have ridges on the tops of their dermal denticles that assist scented water go to their nares, or noses, so they can more readily smell their prey.

This makes them the ideal predator for sting rays, especially when combined with their sensory organs’ ability to detect electrical pulses from sting rays. With their heads moving side to side like sting ray metal detectors, they employ these advantages to swim right over the ocean floor. Beware of the stingrays!

The first shark case of virgin birth occurred in a hammerhead

One of the strangest hammerhead shark facts may concern a bonnethead shark kept in captivity in an aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska. The aquarium’s bonnetheads were all female, and in 2001, one of them gave birth to a baby without the assistance of a man.

Testing revealed that the new shark was paternity-free. This was the first instance of virgin shark birth recorded. Life, um, finds a way, to paraphrase Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park.

What type of animal is a Great Hammerhead Shark?

One of ten shark species belonging to the genera Sphyrna Euphyrna (one species) and Sphyrna (nine species), the Great Hammerhead Shark has a shovel-shaped head or a flattened hammer, sometimes known as a cephalofoil. Sphyrnids, or hammerhead sharks, are among the most distinctive and unusual shark species.

They use their head as a weapon when hunting!

The hammerhead shark has occasionally been observed using its head to physically smash down prey.

To weaken their prey and make them simpler to devour, they employ the blunt force of their skulls.

They can’t see in front of them

This is not to mean that the hammerhead shark has poor vision, though. In fact, they are capable of having 360-degree eyesight. This implies that they are able to view everything both above and below them. however in front of them? Not well at all.

The hammer head of the hammerhead shark is very useful for hunting and living in the ocean’s depths, but it has one drawback. They have a blind spot just in front of their nose due to the placement of their eyes.

The hammerhead shark does, however, have excellent vision aside from this little flaw. In comparison to many other shark species, they even have stronger depth awareness.

‍The hammerhead portion of the shark is called a cephalofoil

The cephalofoil provides the hammerhead group its characteristic form as well as very efficient binocular vision and superb depth perception.

Additionally, according to scientists, hammerhead sharks have more electroreceptor organs than other sharks because to the size of their cephalofoil, which may help them cover greater distances and detect electrical fields around potential food.

There Are at Least 10 Know Species

There are ten hammerhead shark species that are now known to exist, however there may be more. The other shark, a peculiar creature known as the winghead shark, is the only member of its own genus, Eusphyra, which derives its name from the Greek for “hammer.”

The tiny variations in these men’s skull forms may be used by keen observers to distinguish most of them from one another. The size of hammerheads also varies generally: The largest species is the great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), which may grow up to 18 feet long and weigh over 1000 pounds.

The lesser species have a maximum length of 3 to 5 feet (with 10 to 13 feet and 500 pounds being closer to average).

It Looks Like They Evolved Somewhat Recently

In an effort to trace the evolutionary history of the hammerhead family, geneticists at the University of Colorado, Boulder examined DNA samples from eight different hammerhead species. The molecular data revealed that the diversification of hammerhead sharks began around 20 million years ago.

If the University of Colorado research is right, hammerheads are relatively recent arrivals on the global scene because the fossil record indicates that sharks have been around for at least 420 million years. What appearance did the first hammerheads have?

The researchers concluded that they were likely large-bodied creatures. Additionally, they contended that the moderately sized bonnethead and winghead sharks of today developed on their own from large forebears.

Different Species of Hammerheads

The Winghead shark has very long and thin head lobes that set it apart from other Hammerhead species. It also has a comparatively tiny body, with an average length of about 4 feet. They often have a pale underbelly and are grey or light brown in hue.

The females of the Bonnethead and Scalloped Bonnethead grow slightly more than the males and are substantially smaller, measuring an average of 2 to 5 feet long. They have a grayish-brown look with dark patches and a white belly, and they must constantly swim to keep their gills supplied with new oxygen.

Whitefin Hammerhead: The Whitefin resembles the Scalloped Hammerhead in appearance, but it may grow up to 9 feet long on average and has a narrower, more rounded blade.

One of the most often encountered species in coastal areas is the scalloped hammerhead, which is another species in our series of facts about hammerhead sharks. They generally grow to a length of 13 feet, are olive, bronze, or light brown in color, with a white belly.

First up is the Great Hammerhead Shark, which is by far the biggest species and has the longest known length of 20 feet, which is as long as George Washington’s snout on Mount Rushmore!

The normal Great Hammerhead is only around 11 feet long, however a 20-foot specimen has been discovered. Females are typically bigger than males, while males reach maturity a little earlier.

The typical length of the Smalleye Hammerhead is just approximately 5 feet, making it significantly smaller than its other Hammerhead cousins. They feature a broad, arching head with a deep depression in the middle that resembles the form of a mallet.

Smooth Hammerheads may be identified by a solitary notch in the middle of their heads. This species, which ranges in length from 8 to 11 feet, has simple pectoral fins with black tips and a tall, sickle-shaped dorsal fin.

Movement and Migration

Now, it is known that hammerhead sharks may travel great distances during their migration. Sharks have been seen moving from the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) to Malpelo (Colombia) and Cocos (Fiji), for instance (Costa Rica).

These locations have a high level of volcanic activity, which helps hammers on their lengthy journeys. Imagine a form of ocean road that enables sharks to go from one location to another while following predetermined routes, much as it is known that the earth’s magnetic field and the magna collected on the ocean floor act as pathways for the animals.

Hammerhead sharks frequently congregate close to what are known as seamounts or flats in the ocean. Due to the favorable oceanographic circumstances created by these places’ relief, a lot of life and nutrients may frequently be found there.

Imagine a mountain on Earth. When we go to the summit, the wind is stronger than it is at the mountain’s base or in the center, and it carries various nutrients that may be utilised by the life that is present there. A seamount operates in a similar manner.

There are numerous hypotheses as to how these locations may be used by hammers and why you enjoy visiting them so much. The three primary ones are as follows:

Almost all species of hammerhead shark are critically endangered

The term “hammerhead shark” really refers to the “Sphyrnidae” family of sharks, which includes the genus “Sphyrna.” There are nine distinct hammerhead shark species in this genus, five of which are in grave risk of extinction.

The Carolina hammerhead shark (Sphyrna gilberti) is the only hammerhead shark that is not in any way threatened, and only because its population has not yet been determined. Since the initial description of this uncommon species was just made in 2013, additional details concerning their susceptibility will be published in the years to come.

Characteristics

Unknown to us as to why, but one of its distinguishing features is a T-shaped head. This form offers them an advantage since it places their enormous eyes in a position that lets them can look in all directions at once, which makes it easier for them to locate food.

A hammerhead shark’s superb vertebral structure also enables it to move quickly and efficiently in search of prey.

Its mouth is relatively small, has serrated teeth, and is situated right at the center of the bottom of the head. Its body has a countercoloration that helps it blend in with the sea floor; the dorsal area has a light gray or greenish tone, while the ventral part is a light tone. Its nostrils are located at the tip of its head extension.

Hammerhead sharks have seven senses in total, including touch, hearing, smell, sight, and taste, in addition to one sense for detecting frequency waves produced by fish movement and another for detecting electrical fields, which they employ to locate prey that is submerged or hidden.

How Many Teeth Does a Hammerhead Shark Have?

Do you want to know if a hammerhead shark would devour a person? You could be curious in someone’s tooth count. Later, we’ll examine the reasons hammerhead sharks don’t actually threaten people.

The size and number of teeth of various hammerhead species naturally vary greatly.

Teeth on the big hammerhead’s largest hammer are triangular and serrated. Each set of teeth in the upper and lower jaws of great hammerhead sharks totals around 37 teeth. On each side of the upper jaw, there are 17 tooth rows, with two or three teeth in the middle. The lower jaw has between one and three teeth in the centre and 16 or 17 teeth on either side.

Smaller species, like the bonnethead, have flatter teeth to crush its prey, in contrast to the bigger hammerheads’ sharp, jagged teeth.

Great Hammerhead sharks like to swim sideways!

Sharks typically have eight fins, with the dorsal fin being the most notable. They also often have two pectoral fins. Hammerhead sharks don’t often have pectoral fins that are longer than the first dorsal fin, which has an impact on how they move.

In a 2016 study that was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, hammerhead sharks had GoPro cameras mounted to them to record their swimming behavior. After watching the video, it was discovered that the sharks were flipped to their side between 50 and 75 degrees for about 90% of the time.

Theoretically, when hammerheads do this maneuver, their dorsal fin functions more like an extra pectoral fin, lowering drag and widening their wingspan to boost swim efficiency.

Hammerhead sharks are unaffected by stingray stings

The stingray is the hammerhead shark’s preferred prey by far. They are among the species that are most likely to be struck by the tremendous hammer of this shark when it is hunting. The hammerhead shark has developed a resistance to stingray stings, nevertheless, in order to consume stingrays as food.

In the human world, stingray stings are an unpleasant occurrence. In addition to causing excruciating pain and unpleasant side effects like fever or swelling, they can also be deadly. The barb from the stingray was still lodged in the skin of at least one great hammerhead shark, the biggest of the several kinds, when it was caught.

What is their conservation status?

The Great Hammerhead is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Despite not being targeted, its populations in the northwest Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico have decreased by 50% as a result of bycatch during the 1990s, and these regions are where it is categorized as endangered.

Along Africa’s western coast, where resources have decreased by an estimated 80% over the past 25 years, the species is considered severely endangered. The main causes of the Great Hammerhead’s endangered status are habitat degradation and overfishing.