- Genus/Species: Sphyrna
- Conservation Status: Of the 9 species, some species are endangered and some are vulnerable
- Location: Tropical and sub-tropical waters worldwide.
The Shark with a Funny Shaped Head
Hammerhead sharks are found in warm coastal waters and along continental shelves to depths of about 260 feet. There are 9 different species of hammerhead sharks, and all of them have odd shaped heads that look like flattened hammers – hence their name. The flat shape of their heads makes hammerhead sharks more sensitive to electrical signals that are used to find hidden prey, and their wide-set eyes enable them to see better over larger areas. Hammerhead sharks are generally gray-brown to olive-green with off-white undersides, and mouths filled with serrated triangular-shaped teeth.
Most hammerhead species are fairly small but can grow up to 20 feet, about as long as a medium sized car, and can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. They are cunning hunters, feeding on smaller fish, octopuses, squid and shell fish, but generally do not attack humans unless they are attacked first!
Hammerhead sharks spend a lot of time near the bottom of the ocean where their prey dwells, and typically prefer shallow waters that allow them to hunt more easily. These sharks usually hunt alone at night, but are commonly seen in larger groups during the summer months, when they migrate together in search of cooler waters.
The greatest threat to hammerhead sharks is from humans. Hammerhead sharks are widely hunted for their teeth and fins and some species are endangered.
Did You Know?
- Hammerhead sharks use nine ways to communicate with each other. One of the more interesting ways is the violent shaking of the head from side to side.
- Hammerheads use their wide heads to attack stingrays, pinning them against the sea floor.
- Hammerhead sharks use a group of sensory organs called ampullae of lorenzini to identify the electrical fields produced by their prey. These organs are so sensitive, they can sense a human heart beating several miles away.
- Hammerhead sharks can be easily recognized by their additional dorsal fins.